31 August 2011 14:23:38
As the economy continues to struggle and the federal debt reaches historic highs, elected officials in Washington continue to seek out methods of reducing costs and improving efficiency for the public sector and government agencies.
In 2009, Vivek Kundra was appointed by President Obama as the federal chief information officer, and one of his first matters of business was to initiate the Cloud First Policy. According to the federal CIO website, Kundra's plan allocated around $20 million of the total $80 million spent by the government on IT to expanding cloud usage.
The policy aims to eliminate at least 800 federally-funded data centers by 2015, which would add to savings accrued from rented Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service practices, the CIO website adds.
Kundra recently left the federal CIO position to return to academia, while he was replaced by a well-respected industry professional, Steven VanRoekel, who immediately voiced his confidence in continuing on with Kundra's plans. Kundra made his first public statement since leaving the White House this past week, ZDNet reports.
According to the source, Kundra published an editorial in the New York Times explaining the potential benefits of government adoption of cloud services. Powerful private contractors, Kundra asserts, have a political stronghold on government IT - a situation that he feels could be remedied by more active involvement in cloud practices by elected and appointed officials.
"Some agencies, like the General Services Administration, have embraced cloud computing - the agency has cut the IT costs on things as simple as its email system by over 50 percent," Kundra explained in the NYT editorial. "But, other agencies have balked. The State Department, for instance, has raised concerns about whether the cloud approach introduces security risks, since data is stored off site by private contractors."
Some of these concerns are expected to subside in the coming years, as the cloud matures and more professionals gain a better understanding of the technology. For example, a non-profit group comprised of cloud vendor executives recently created the Security, Trust and Assurance Registry, with the goal of standardizing security practices and publicizing cloud-provider policies and actions.
The potential for savings is already clear, as federal agencies and organizations alike have experienced much success in cutting IT costs after transitioning to cloud services.
"Public and private organizations that preserve the status quo of wasteful spending will be punished, while those that embrace the cloud will be rewarded with substantial savings and 21st-century jobs," Kundra added.
-McAfee Cloud Security