Cloud Computing for the Government

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Vivek Kundra's Cloud First Strategy is Stunning

Plan is Smart & Concise, Aims to Transform 25% of Federal IT to the Cloud

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra's "Cloud First" plan for the Federal government is brilliant, as concise as such a plan can be, and should serve as a model for business and government throughout the world.

It doesn't overpromise--or even promise--monetary savings, yet sets a goal of devoting 25% of all Federal IT spend on Cloud Computing initiatives.

It mentions consolidation and agility, but focuses on innovation, as it should.

It sets a short but realistic 18-month timeline for clear progress, while also outlining clear strategies and tactics that will outlive the current administration.

It also provides case studies of successes achieved, in many specific ways.

I can imagine active and passive aggressive pushback from any number of lifelong bureaucrats who know that they will still be employed after Kundra returns to the private sector. But one hopes he has enough support by President Obama's cabinet to kick naysayers to the curb.

The US Federal government spends about $80 billion annually on IT. For something this large to migrate 25% of its effort to the Cloud would be phenomenal indeed. The Cloud First plan is just the kind of aggressive, yet clearheaded thinking the US needs to get itself out of its current pity-party blamefest, back on its feet, and working.

(This amount of money, by the way is equal to the entire economies of oil-rich Qatar and the mid-level European country of Slovakia. It is twice the entire annual budget of the Philippines, where I'm currently on assignment.)

Cloud First first defines Cloud Computing along today's traditional lines: public, private, community, hybrid, and all that. Through virtualization, it aims to improve server performance from the traditional 10-15% to a more ideal 60-70%.

More significantly, it endorses the use of "X-as-a-Service" purchases, to end the culture of interminable deployment times and move to "near-instantaneous" changes in capacity. You read that correctly; the Federal government wants to be nearly instananeous in its ability to respond to challenges.

Regarding innovation, Kundra's Cloud First strategy aims to:

  • Shift focus from asset ownership to service management

  • Tap into private-sector innovation

  • Encourage an entrepreneurial culture

  • Better link government IT to emerging technologies (ie, all the cool devices we're seeing and will continue to see)

Cloud First outlines a simple, three-stage approach to Cloud in government: select, provision, and manage. It offers examples of how this has already been achieved by early adapters:

  • an SaaS recruiting effort by the U.S. Army

  • an IaaS development effort by an intelligence agency

  • a PaaS consolidation of 21 e-mail systems by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Cloud First blueprint would be viewed as smart, aggressive, and practical in a business environment. To take this approach successfully to government would be a stunning achievement.

http://www.twitter.com/strukhoff

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.