26 August 2011 16:29:16
While the former and current federal chief information officers of the United States, as well as their staff, have viewed the Cloud First Policy as an excellent opportunity to cut down on IT costs, some contractors have mixed feelings. As independent vendors often manage both public and private cloud services, security and data loss prevention practices seem a concern to some entities.
According to a recent article from The New York Times, federal departments that handle highly sensitive data have been slow to adopt the cloud, as the new technology is seen as a serious liability. While the Defense Department has stated it only intends to use cloud services for isolated functions, the Agriculture Department has already moved thousands of employee accounts to the cloud, the news source adds.
The State Department has already transitioned low-risk projects to the cloud, and expects to eventually make the change with other operations as soon as the cloud proves it is a secure and reliable tool.
"How can we ensure that the monitoring of the commercial cloud environment is done as well as we believe we do it internally?" Susan Swart, the CIO of the State Department, asked the NYT. "Where will the data reside? When we're managing it on our data centers, we know the answer to those questions."
Vivek Kundra, who recently left the federal CIO position to return to Harvard University, believes the cloud will become more feasible for higher-risk government operations in the coming years.
"Just as the internet has led to the creation of new business models unfathomable 20 years ago, cloud computing will disrupt and reshape entire industries in unforeseen ways," he told the NYT in an email.
According to its website, this past May, the U.S. General Services Administration became the first government agency to move its entire email operation to cloud services. The savings, the GSA notes, are expected to reach $15 million over the next five years.
The NYT notes that the U.S. government's IT costs typically reach about $80 billion a year. While Washington continues to look for ways to cut costs, as the government is in the grasp of a historic deficit and tasked with improving one of the worst economies in the history of the country, any way to save money has been considered seriously.
Kundra projected his Cloud First Policy to save the government more than $3 billion annually, the news source cites, and his successor, Steve VanRoekel, recently announced he was committed to continuing the policy.
-McAfee Cloud Security