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Will the U.S. government provide cloud computing the endorsement it needs?

by Dave Hannon

September 20, 2010

By Dave Hannon

This week, members of the Business Software Alliance will meet with a collection of federal officials to “discuss how the federal government can make the best use of cloud computing solutions to cut costs and improve performance.”

If you re-read that sentence, you realize this is basically a sales call. It’s a very very high-level sales call, but it’s a sales call. Executives from a few software heavy-hitters are trying to sell the U.S. government on the benefits of cloud computing. And if the U.S. government endorses the concept broadly and puts its -- or our -- data into the cloud, then surely individual companies will feel much more at ease about it.

Here, just take a look at the wording from the press release: "The software industry strongly supports the federal government's move to adopt cloud computing solutions. In many cases, it can provide tremendous opportunities for agencies to boost their operations' performance and manage tight budgets," said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman. (While SAP is not listed as a member of the BSA, Sybase is a member and CMO Raj Nathan will be among the software executives making the case for cloud computing to government officials.)

But c loud computing is not new to the White House agenda. Back in September 2009, the Obama Administration launched a cloud computing initiative that created a new site called Apps.gov. Described as “an online platform for delivery of cloud-based IT services for productivity, collaboration and efficiency,” Apps.gov is a clear indication that the government really “gets” cloud computing. It’s a vague site with a ton of jargon and cloudy images, no “about us” page or description of what the site is, so you leave the site more confused than when you came.

That’s cloud computing isn’t it?

All kidding aside, according to WhiteHouse.gov, cloud computing is also being used for Recovery.gov, USASpending.gov and the implementation of Electronic Health Record systems. And the meetings this week will focus on how to move forward in the cloud.

Lastly, listed among the federal officials participating in this week’s sales pitch will be the CTO and CIO of the United States. I have to admit I didn’t even know the U.S. had a CTO and CIO but it has for more than a year. Apparently, in March 2009, Vivek Kundra was named CIO and in May 2009, Aneesh Chopra was appointed the Chief Technology Officer. Not sure I’d want either of those jobs, given the notorious reputation government computing systems have. But I suppose creating those types of positions and creating some accountability for overall systems is the first st ep toward integrating the massive array of systems the government has in place.

At least until they all vaporize up into the cloud, that is.

What do you think?

Is cloud computing a good option for an enterprise as massive as the U.S. government? Post a comment here with your thoughts.

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