Federal Government Departments Finally Making Moves to Cloud

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-03-03 Print this article Print

title=Widespread Uncertainty About Cloud Computing}

There is still widespread uncertainty about the particulars of cloud computing; recent studies have reported that about half of all U.S. IT managers are still seeking out information on the topic before making any changes.

Kundra and those in favor of the strategy insist that the move to upgrade federal IT will improve worker productivity and help lower service, equipment and power costs. In fact, that is what most enterprise companies say they have experienced in their own moves to a service-oriented IT system.

Security-always the No. 1 fear in cloud systems because critical data files are maintained away from the physical confines of a data center-is again the main criticism of such a move. No surprise there.

Thus far, the controversial Homeland Security department is the highest-profile government agency to have adopted cloud computing services.

It's a relatively small step, but at least it's a forward-looking one. IT managers at HS have designed and placed on the 2011 budget a private cloud for its e-mail system, which will enable more than 100,000 e-mail addresses at most of its subdivisions. The cloud will go online in 2012.

In addition, the massive General Services Administration is moving its own e-mail services to the cloud. Its blueprint reports that directors expect to save $15 million over the next five years. The Department of Agriculture migrated some 120,000 e-mail addresses to the cloud late last year, creating a $27 million windfall contract for Unisys to do the infrastructure.

The USDA cloud software uses Microsoft Exchange Online, Office SharePoint Online and Office Communications Online. Other IT companies that have won contracts in this space include IBM, Dell and EMC.

Disruption of Old Practices Is Exactly the Idea Kundra-a 2009 President Obama appointee who is the first chief information officer in U.S. history-presented a speech Feb. 25 at an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association panel discussion on how directors of government agencies can get the ball rolling in their IT departments to adopt cloud computing.

"We want to make sure the shift is disruptive. ... We want the federal government to move away from asset ownership and shift to service provisioning," Kundra said.

The next 18 months in the federal IT world will indeed be disruptive as research is done, meetings are scheduled, plans are made, and bids are sent out to potential contractors.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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