Obama's Cloud Computing Strategy Takes Shape - InformationWeek

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5/11/2009
09:05 AM
John Foley
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Obama's Cloud Computing Strategy Takes Shape

When President Obama nominated Vivek Kundra to the position of Federal CIO, it was seen as a signal that the U.S. government would begin to incorporate cloud computing into its IT policies and strategy. The pieces are falling into place quickly.

When President Obama nominated Vivek Kundra to the position of Federal CIO, it was seen as a signal that the U.S. government would begin to incorporate cloud computing into its IT policies and strategy. The pieces are falling into place quickly.Following Kundra's appointment, Aneesh Chopra was named Federal CTO in April, and on May 6 Tara O'Toole was nominated to serve as undersecretary of the Science and Technology Directorate.

Meanwhile, government IT stakeholders have been laying the groundwork for broader adoption of cloud services among government agencies. Peter Mell and Tim Grance with the National Institute of Standards and Technology's computer science division recently came out with a draft definition of cloud computing. The definition presents cloud computing as having five key characteristics (on-demand self-service; ubiquitous network access; location-independent resource pooling; rapid elasticity; and pay-per-use), three delivery models (SaaS, Paas, Iaas), and four deployment models (private, community, public, hyrbrid). (See Reuven Cohen's blog post for their full definition.)

For more on NIST's thinking, see Mell and Grance's "Perspectives on Cloud Computing and Standards." The authors float some bold ideas, including the concept of a federal cloud infrastructure where agencies might have their own cloud instances or nodes.

Uncle Sam also has a cloud CTO. Patrick Stingley has taken on the role of Federal Cloud CTO with the General Services Administration. According to Stingley's bio, he began working on cloud computing last year, and he has written a number of papers including "Acquisition of Cloud Computing Services" and "Cloud Computing for Federal Agencies" and prepared a development plan for a federal cloud computing capability.

In a recent interview with InformationWeek's Mary Hayes Weier, federal CIO Kundra reiterated his interest in the cloud model. As one proof point, the Office of Citizen Services recently decided to move its USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov Web sites over to be hosted by Terremark.

Where is all of this leading? Many issues remain around architecture, interoperability, security, and data governance, but the momentum is building. Government data specialist Input projects that federal, state, and local government agencies will spend more than $1.4 billion on cloud services by 2013. Input says government agencies will "begin the march" to cloud computing in 2010. I expect to see more early adopters before then.

InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis on government IT priorities. Download the report here (registration required).

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