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US Federal Government Puts Its Toes into the Cloud Computing Water

By Andrea Di Maio | May 12, 2009 | 2 Comments


A White House document published yesterday with the FY 2010 budget request touches on cloud computing as a way to improve innovation, efficiency and effectiveness in federal IT.

The document suggests that

A number of pilot projects will be implemented to offer an opportunity to utilize more fully and broadly departmental and agency architectures to
identify enterprise-wide common services and solutions, with a new emphasis on cloud-computing.

It clearly refers to infrastructure services and to a private cloud, i.e. a virtualized infrastructure potentially serving the needs of the whole federal government, but operated under its control and most likely within national boundaries. Security is of course of paramount importance, but the document does not suggest that any of the pilots may consider to use a public cloud, although this would be possible (and probably desirable) in areas where privacy and security concern are not top-of-mind (e.g. informational web sites).

Suggested pilots cover a broad spectrum, ranging from user computing to data centers, from portals to content and records management, from case management to enterprise software. It is clear that, while the most immediate impact will be on the IT Infrastructure Line of Business (not by chance GSA’s Patrick Stingley has been named Federal Cloud CTO), other Lines of Business (such as Financial Management or HRM) are soon to come.

It will be interesting to watch how this plays out and affects the marketplace. This is probably the largest scale endorsement of cloud computing of any government and, although it is still at a nascent stage, may set the bat for many other governments to follow.

See also my recent post on how cloud and commoditization are related.

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  • John Kost says:

    The federal OMB A-76 process requires that functions of government be considered for competition in order to determine if something is best done internally (and, if so, by whom) or by the private sector. Some agencies take A-76 seriously though it remains to be seen whether the Obama administration generally will do so.

    The A-76 process and templates may need to be updated to better account for “cloud” computing. Cloud computing introduces a new dimension in that capital investment issues are largely eliminated in favor of very simple transactional models.

  • Max Claps says:

    I’m tempted to think that those “enterprise-wide” common services and solutions are just a different flavor of consolidation, regardless of the delivery model, the ITI Line of Business shared services program, or a private cloud, it will require widespread agreement among a few dozen agencies on what that architecture should look like.