Cloud Computing According To The US Government

[I originally published this post on the Morphlabs corporate blog on 2/17/2011]

The U.S. Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, released the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy on this week and it is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in cloud computing.  And it is a definite read for anyone who manages or uses IT resources in companies of all sizes as the scope of what the Federal Government is proposing will have a large and direct impact on information technology across all sectors for many years to come.

The document starts by outlining the current situation of the Federal Government’s IT environment:

  • low asset utilization
  • fragmented demand for resources
  • duplicative systems
  • environments which are difficult to manage
  • long procurement lead times

Do those issues sound familiar?

With respect to low asset utilization, an accompanying presentation estimates the curent utilization of a typical US Government server at 27%.  The executive summary also estimates that 25% of the $80 Billion of the Federal IT spend is a potential target for migration to the cloud – and that is a number that should drive cloud adoption in private business too.

The Federal Cloud Computing Strategy document is organized as follows:

  1. Definitions and background cloud computing information
  2. Decision framework for cloud computing migration
  3. Current examples of cloud computing use in the Federal Government
  4. Discussion of how Federal Government leadership can catalyze adoption and minimize risk

There are many nuggets of information in the document including the cloud computing definition provided on Chapter I which is one of the simpler yet most complete descriptions of cloud computing – “Cloud computing describes a broad movement to treat IT services as a commodity with the ability to dynamically increase or decrease capacity to match usage needs.”

Another bright spot was the identification of the three cloud computing benefits of efficiency, agility and innovation as it is refreshing to see those words published in a document from our government since those are not typical words used in governmental operations.

In the conclusion, the document paraphrases Sir Arthur Eddington (the physicist who confirmed Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity) – “cloud computing will not just be more innovative than we imagine; it will be more innovative than we can imagine.”

The entire Cloud Computing Strategy document can be viewed below or downloaded from this link.  There is also an accompanying presentation which provides a general overview at this link.