The Department of Energy (DoE) is utilizing the cloud to quickly scale up its computing capacity in response to COVID-19, with the end goal of enabling DoE employees constantly in mind, said Rocky Campione, DoE CIO.
Speaking at ACT-IAC’s ReImagine Nation ELC event today, Campione described how COVID-19 research brought more demands on DoE’s National Labs, and the need to quickly scale up operations for other aspects of that research.
“We’re using the fastest computers in the world to address COVID-19 … so we’re using cloud computing to offload some of those services, and complement what we’re on-premises,” said Campione. “The ability to use the cloud allows us to efficiently and rapidly deploy capabilities that might take years before buying, building, and testing,” he added.
Campione discussed a recent cloud contract that extends across all National Labs, but emphasized that standardization and a single cloud approach was not the end goal for DoE.
“We did that in conjunction with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab … we also had them write the requirements and help us with the market research so that as we were working out the final deals, they helped us make decisions about where we actually wanted discounts,” he said, noting that the scientists were most interested in lowering egress costs to better share their research.
Throughout the discussion, Campione emphasized the theme of listening to the people executing the mission to better understand their needs.
“Working with the folks who are actually utilizing the capability is vitally important to understanding what their needs are, not what our needs are,” he stressed. “I don’t know what’s best – I can figure it out by listening to people, but the answers aren’t all up here [in my head],” he added.
In a similar vein, Campione – on the way to the airport himself – emphasized the need to get out of some of the inside-the-Beltway discussions and regulations, and step back to assess the CIO’s true priority.
“The CIO’s job is not to put yourself on a different box in the org chart or to say, ‘can I get more money?’ during the appropriations process. Our job is to solve problems, and that’s it.”