Federal Government Departments Finally Making Moves to Cloud

ANALYSIS: Under new CIO Vivek Kundra, virtually all of the early cloud projects involve moving e-mail systems to service providers, but at least changes are taking place.

At last, the White House is seeing some actual movement from U.S. federal government agencies on bringing cost- and energy-saving cloud-based services to its legion IT departments.

Of course, getting the federal government to move on anything as embedded and as siloed as legacy IT would take even a united Congress a long time to accomplish. And, as is well-known, Congress isn't too united on anything right now.

Virtually all of the early projects involve moving e-mail systems to service providers, but at least the change is taking place. Later on, the White House expects agencies to begin using the cloud for additional purposes, such as data storage, extra computing capacity and others.


U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra (pictured) first announced his "Cloud First" policy at a Silicon Valley event early in 2010. In December 2010, Kundra got more granular and specified that all agencies must move at least one system to a hosted environment during calendar year 2011.

In response, the Department of Treasury moved its Website to Amazon EC2 early in January 2011. Early reaction has been positive, since there haven't been any known security lapses or outages in the first 60 days.

In his official cloud strategy directive ("Federal Cloud Computing Strategy," available for download here), Kundra said that "an estimated $20 billion of the federal government's $80 billion in IT spending is a potential target for migration to cloud computing solutions."

Strategy Now in Public Domain

Last week, Kundra started in earnest the initiative that will force many agencies into talking about, and eventually adopting, cloud computing. Posting the 25-point federal cloud computing plan on the department Web site puts the plan squarely in the public domain and begins a new kind of pressure on federal IT managers to get moving with the program.

The 43-page report, which describes the 18-month road map in the federal cloud computing initiative, includes a listing of the long-term and short-term benefits of cloud computing, use case examples, management recommendations, and key metrics.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...