09 September 2011 17:01:03
Recent figures in the federal government have pushed cloud computing as a top IT priority, as the technology has proved to benefit both cost management and overall efficiency in many industries. While cloud service providers continue to sprout, and existing players refine and expand services, the federal government searches for the best possible fit.
A recent press release from the U.S. Department of Defense explained how it is currently looking for a cloud computing solution that can be efficient, secure and easy to operate. The cloud, DOD chief information officer Robert Carey asserts, may be the best way to centralize and strengthen the department's expansive and currently disjointed computer server and data center network.
The release notes Carey's extensive IT background, citing how he doubles as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for information management, integration and technology.
According to the release, this may be the result of the challenges issued by former federal CIO Vivek Kundra to federal entities to streamline IT operations and eliminate a large number of data centers. The department cites a statement from the U.S. CIO website, explaining how cloud-based services offer the ability to reduce energy consumption and costs while scaling capacity on demand.
Some federal entities have already adopted cloud computing for specific functions, and many expect favorable results. For example, the U.S. General Services Administration became the first federal agency to convert its email services to cloud-based models this past May. The GSA expects the move, which cost $6.7 million to fund, to save the agency more than $15 million over the next five years.
More recently, the agency issued a public request for quotations of the policies and operational practices of cloud vendors, offering $2.5 billion over the next five years to the selected providers. Additionally, high-ranking members of the GSA issued public statements aimed to ensure the cloud is a safe and viable IT option, Computer Week reported.
Still, the DOD has substantially higher security requirements, as it generally acquires and manages much more sensitive data than some other federal agencies. A relative lacking of consumer comfort and confidence with cloud security has prevailed as the biggest setback for the industry, though many of these concerns are expected to dissipate in the coming years.
"We must balance all three [efficiency, effectiveness and security]," Carey explained in the DOD press release. "We have to serve the information needs of our warfighters, as well as the people back here in the ivory towers." The release also notes Carey's extensive IT knowledge, and that he doubles as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for information management, integration and technology.
-McAfee Cloud Security