IDC Government Insights Community –
Science fiction author and futurist William Gibson once said "The future is already here - it's just not evenly distributed." The same could be said about government cloud-based IT solutions.
While others have been debating the future of cloud systems in the public sector, a few organizations have been out in front, building and offering their own cloud solutions. Here's a brief list of notable government cloud-based services. As the list below shows, the Defense Information systems Agency (DISA) and the General Services Administration (GSA) are leading providers. But other agencies also are setting themselves up as key players. Please feel free to add more resources to this list, but please, let's focus only on those with a government connection - especially those with a .gov, .mil or .us address.
* DISA's Forge.mil and its associated set of application development and application life cycle management tools. The site provides a group of services specifically for the DoD's IT development community. The set of solutions support collaborative development and use of open source software and also applications and solutions developed within the DoD community. Most resources on forge.mil are available only to U.S. military, DoD civilian employees and DoD contractors. A group of 10 users can set up a work area on Forge.mil starting at roughly $15,000 per year.
* DISA's RACE platform. The "Rapid Access computing platform" is offered by the Computing Services Directorate within the Defense Information Systems Agency. The goal of the RACE program is to allow participants to specify, order, customize and have their computing platform up and running in 24 hours or less. The environments are secure, and can be ordered using a credit card. Systems can be set up to meet a variety of federal and military standards. Solutions are available for Linux and Windows.
* DISA's Global Information Grid (GIG) Content Delivery Service (GCDS). Many people think of cloud solutions as sets of hosted applications. But many other types of services also can be hosted in a cloud. With that in mind, the GCDS offers a service that accelerates delivery and improves the consistency and trustworthiness of web applications. It's deployed across the Defense Information systems Network, (NIPRnet & SIPRnet). DISA also offers a variety of hosted Web platforms, approved databases and back-end systems that can be ramped up quickly.
* The Apps.gov site within GSA. This site has slowly morphed from a online list of available applications and reusable computing resources into a powerful storefront which offers hosted sets of business applications, productivity tools, collaboration areas, social media applications, and, perhaps most importantly, sets of cloud services ranging from computing platforms to storage to Web sites -- plus associated back-end systems. Unfortunately, some of the solutions have been listed as "coming soon" for a bit too long. But, the site does continue to grow, and it's worth an occasional visit to see what's been added.
* NASA's Nebula solution. NASA offers a full cloud computing platform. Nebula is coordinated at the NASA Ames Research Center, and offers sets of open-source components that can be integrated into full (and self-service) platforms. Offerings range from high-capacity computing, virtualized systems and more, in a scalable environment. In fact there's a very strong focus on scalability and integrated reporting and policy compliance.
* Research.gov's Online Grants Management Tools. The Research.gov Website, coordinated by the National Science Foundation, offers a database of available grants, and award histories. But what's particularly interesting is the set of grant application, monitoring and reporting tools that are built into the site. It taps into NSF's FastLane organization and other solutions to let end users and institutions coordinate and monitor sets of grant applications, results and required reports. Note: the Grants.gov Website offers similar tools.
* The Energy Department's Magellan program. With funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act this system will offer advanced computing power that is "purpose-built for the special requirements of scientific computing, using technology and tool sets unavailable in commercial clouds." The project is launching from the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Other National labs will offer additional online high-performance computing systems.
* The Interior Department's National Business Center. Traditionally, this organization has provided "data center management, operations, communications, and customer service support for the automated administrative systems." It's an OMB-designated provider of automated administrative services and Data Center processing services, and now it also offers several cloud-based solutions, including "eApplications" hosting and some financial and human resources solutions. Eventually it will offer a software-as-a-service marketplace.