Do Federal Agencies Belong in Cloud Computing Networks?

By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2008-11-20 Print this article Print

title=Security and Barriers to Federal Cloud Computing}

Other agencies are also considering a move to cloud computing. After an October cloud computing seminar for government IT agencies, Cohen said more than 20 agencies approached Booz Allen for further insights on life in the cloud.

"Cloud computing gives the ability to go out and try things," Cohen said. "The cloud offers the opportunity to unlock new ideas. A lot depends on the IT problems they are trying to solve. The rate of adoption [for cloud computing] depends on how and when they are taking up the problem."

The U.S. government's march to cloud computing faces steep barriers to adoption, particularly in the areas of security and privacy, but nothing insurmountable, Cohen said. "There are already vulnerabilities in our existing infrastructure that are not in the cloud," he said. "In the cloud it is harder to exploit these known vulnerabilities."

Government regulations are also a problem that must be addressed. FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act), which dictates what federal IT managers can and cannot do with their data, was written before cloud computing developed. The ITAA (Information Technology Association of America) is already exploring what standards the feds might use in cloud computing.

Overall, Cohen predicted, federal agencies will take up cloud computing sooner or later. Given the slow pace of government agencies, though, "sooner" can often be much later.


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