The economy has been rough for business in recent years. Chances are, your enterprise has caught sight of the hype that moving to the cloud will save lots of money and make things run smoother. Every business is different, however, and with so many cloud options, you really don’t know what the consequences of a move to the cloud will be until it is completed. A look at specific cases will help provide insight into what has already been achieved. For example, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has recently moved to a cloud model, saving the administration about $1 million a year.

What They Moved

The agency implemented a move intended to transform its IT infrastructure and application services. A centrally managed end user services model, communications and web services, and capacity for enterprise application management and development have been integrated into the cloud model. The central business office created in the process helps to control all of the cloud deployments from a single location.

The cloud has traditionally, in its brief life in the computing and business industry, been a secure place to store data. NASA has taken advantage of this as the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has transferred about a quarter of million images of Mars to Microsoft Windows Azure. Secure data storage is one reason, of course, but this move also establishes a resource that makes such data available to the general public. It has also deployed SERVIR to the cloud, a system that integrates data from satellites and ground observations with forecast models so environmental changes can be monitored.


Moving image data to the cloud has enabled NASA to make fascinating data available to the public. On a deeper level, the SERVIR deployment was intended to increase the agency’s environmental monitoring capabilities, and improve the overall global response to unexpected natural disasters.

Larger scale reasons for the move are reflected in the agency’s overall IT mission, which is to optimize the efficiency, reliability, and security of its IT services. In addition to helping scientists, engineers, and mission support personnel to increase their productivity, NASA has set an initial goal of meeting evolving needs of stakeholders and those working to complete each mission successfully. Objectives have addressed computing experience of users, data center consolidation, the mobile workforce, and applications meeting business and information needs. The integration, security, and oversight needs of the organization were also factors in the decision.

The Result

Consolidation of IT operations has enabled the agency to close 20 datacenters. Overall, experts believe this will save $1 million each year. Access to cloud resources is another advantage, since valuable data are available from any Internet-connected system or device. A cloud-based geospatial IT infrastructure fosters collaboration between experts across continents.

Scientists and engineers can therefore work together from different parts of the world, while data on the Internet let people in on interesting discoveries, helping the agency from a public relations standpoint. If NASA can benefit from a move to the cloud, then it should be suitable for your enterprise if the initiative is carefully planned. Businesses of all kinds, public and private, are at a competitive advantage when working on a global scale.