Feds trek to the cloud

By Mary K. Pratt, Computerworld |  Cloud Computing

The report, which was underwritten by virtualization vendor VMware, also noted that 64% of 167 federal CIOs and IT managers surveyed in January expect cloud computing to both reduce costs and improve service.

In his Feb. 8, 2011, "Federal Cloud Computing Strategy" report, Kundra listed other benefits beyond cost containment. He said the cloud could create a more agile, responsive and scalable infrastructure that would support more collaboration and innovation -- the same factors that nongovernment IT leaders cite as reasons for moving to the cloud.

Several government projects have already yielded such returns.

The U.S. Treasury Department moved its public-facing websites, including Treasury.gov, to Amazon cloud services earlier this year, with help from Smartronix. Morgenthal says the move enabled the site to be more flexible and scalable.

Analysts point to other cloud initiatives that are yielding cost reductions and service improvements.

"Certainly the migration of USA.gov to a private cloud hosted by Terremark [now part of Verizon], as well as the early cloud development at DISA [the Defense Information Systems Agency] and at NASA, are great examples," Gartner analyst Andrea Di Maio said in an email.

DISA's development of the Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE) cloud infrastructure is an example of a successful government cloud initiative, agrees Deniece Peterson, a federal industry analyst at Deltek, a Herndon, Va.-based enterprise software vendor whose customers include federal agencies and government contractors. Other successful cloud projects include the U.S. Army's deployment of Salesforce.com and the Customs and Border Protection agency's use of the cloud for its customer relationship management application, she adds.

This spring, the Army announced that it had completed the first phase of a migration of email services to the DISA cloud; officials estimate that the move will save $100 million annually.

Falling Behind

Fed CIOs Lag on 'Cloud First' Goals

Federal IT leaders are moving ahead with cloud computing projects, but it appears that many of them aren't moving as quickly as mandated by the "cloud first" policy, which requires CIOs to move one service to the cloud by the end of this year and two more by mid-2012. The "Federal Cloud Weather Report" published in April by MeriTalk, found the following:

52% will move the first service to cloud computing in the next 12 months.

48% will move the next two services to the cloud within the 18-month time frame.

Hurdles to Clear

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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