Government agencies could save $30 billion through virtualization

February 6, 2012

The United States government is attempting to facilitate increased cloud adoption among federal agencies with the launch of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), an initiative designed to standardize cloud migration to reduce costs and improve security.

According to a recent study by MeriTalk, an online community for government IT employees, the virtualization of government servers, applications and desktops could save more than $30 billion by 2015.

"Virtualization and consolidation are critical components of an effective cloud strategy, resulting in tangible benefits," said technology expert Susie Adams. "If agencies are thinking vigorously and broadly about combining server consolidation, data center consolidation, and private cloud infrastructures, the industry can realize tremendous leaps in scalability, cost savings, improved services, and integrated management. In many ways this begins with a smart approach to virtualization."

The survey of government IT executives revealed 82 percent of federal and 77 percent of state and local organizations have already transferred some servers to a virtual environment, saving 19 percent of their IT budgets. Virtualized workloads are projected to double by 2015, increasing the cost savings to $23.6 billion.

Additionally, 57 percent of federal agencies have prioritized server virtualiztion over desktop virtualization, while 64 percent of state and local organizations have done the same. Government agencies are also beginning to virtualize applications, although very few plan to migrate all critical applications to a virtual environment. The report said organizations could save 9.5 percent of their IT budget by virtualizing desktops.

Respondents said funding is the biggest obstacle for agencies to achieve their server and desktop virtualization goals, while legacy applications and limited upper-management support were also cited as significant impediments.

Last February, then-U.S. chief information officer Vivek Kundra said $20 billion of the federal government's $80 billion IT budget could be allocated to cloud computing, adding that migrating to the cloud could reduce data center infrastructure costs 30 percent.

"Cloud computing can allow IT organizations to simplify, as they no longer have to maintain complex, heterogeneous technology environments. Focus will shift from the technology itself to the core competencies and mission of the agency," Kundra said in the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy.

Current Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel is now working with Congress to improve lawmakers' knowledge of cloud computing and increase adoption among government organizations, a major goal of VanRoekel and President Barack Obama's administration.

-McAfee Cloud Security