Day: May 2, 2012

Policy Requires Government Agencies to Think “Cloud First”

By now you have probably heard a lot of statistics about how companies, both small and large, are utilizing cloud technology to grow their business. But what you may not know is that 48% of U.S. government agencies have moved one or more workflows to the cloud. This shift has come in the wake of the federal government’s “cloud first” policy, which requires those agencies to consider and evaluate cloud computing options before making any new IT investments.

The Office of Management and Budget first announced its intent to pursue cloud computing in November 2010 as part of the 2012 budget process. According to the release, the plan’s goal was to consolidate more than 2,000 government data centers would save money, increase security and improve performance. In December of that year, the agency released its “25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management,” a document outlining an IT plan that would help the government serve the American people. The move to cloud computing was one of the steps in accomplishing the goal of “Achieving Operational Efficiency.” The document stated that “When evaluating options for new IT deployments, OMB will require that agencies default to cloud-based solutions whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists” and that the agency would set up government-wide computing platforms necessary to complete the shift. It charged the NIST with facilitating and leading the development of standards for the plan.

In February 2011, then U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra published the “Federal Cloud Computing Strategies” document. Kundra stated that approximately $20 billion of the government’s $80 billion IT budget could be allocated to migrating to cloud technology. That may sound like a lot of money, but Kundra was confident that the benefits for government agencies would be worth the cost. Below are some of the benefits of the cloud that you may also see as a business owner:

  • Better utilization of assets- Kundra points out a survey that found many agencies were not fully utilizing the storage capacity available to them. Since cloud computing allows IT infrastructures to be shared, data centers can be consolidated by “shifting workloads and applications to infrastructures owned and operated by third parties.” Cloud computing also allows for flexibility during peak times and slower times. Better utilization reduces the need to drastically increase capacity.
  • Innovation- According to the document, cloud computing enables innovation. It would allow the Federal Government to creatively use its IT investments and easily adopt innovations from private sectors. It also allows employees to take advantage of the newest technologies, like tablets and smart phones.
  • Reducing risk- The cloud allows the government (and businesses) to conceive, develop and test new projects and ideas with less investment.

At the conclusion of the document, Kundra makes an interesting statement endorsing cloud computing:

“Cloud computing will enable a fundamental shift in how we serve the American people. Citizens empowered to see their homes’ electricity use in real-time will be able to make more intelligent consumption choices. Citizens able to access their health records electronically will be able to easily share them with doctors and providers, and thus improve their healthcare. Citizens able to create and share performance dashboards will be able to shine a light on the government’s performance as easily as they create and share YouTube videos today.”

So, where does the government stand now in terms of its migration process? According to PCWorld, experts say that the government is slowly moving toward the cloud but still has quite a ways to go. Even so, the fact that the government wants cloud technology to be the first option in IT solutions shows that they are confident in the utility and benefits of cloud computing.

At IronOrbit, we offer our clients customized cloud solutions. Your business can reap the many benefits of cloud computing for a low, flat rate.