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Government Plans 'Cloud-First' Policy in New IT Budget

The information technology portion of the 2012 federal budget proposal submitted by President Barak Obama this week calls for a "Cloud-First" policy, meaning agencies are being encouraged to use cloud-based solution when such an option exists.

The shift is outlined in a report released last week by Federal CIO Vivek Kundra. "This policy is intended to accelerate the pace at which the government will realize the value of cloud computing by requiring agencies to evaluate safe, secure cloud computing options before making any new investments," according to the report.

Obama's budget calls for a slight uptick in IT spending overall totaling $79.5 billion, a 1.9 increase over the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. In the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy report, Kundra said $20 billion spent on IT, or 25 percent, can move to the cloud.

"By using the cloud computing model for IT services, we will be able to reduce our data center infrastructure expenditure by approximately 30 percent,"  the report states, pointing to inefficiencies in the current IT environment.

"Cloud computing has the potential to play a major part in addressing these inefficiencies and improving government service delivery. The cloud computing model can significantly help agencies grappling with the need to provide highly reliable, innovative services quickly despite resource constraints," according to the report.

But analyst Ray Bjorklund of Federal Sources, tells Computerworld that he is skeptical that the government can achieve such lofty goals.  "Trying to wave your wand and say we are going to achieve 30 percent savings is not that simple," he said.

Bjorklund has a point but the government's push into cloud computing will be an important barometer for the success and challenges of this shift in how IT is provided and managed.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/17/2011 at 1:14 PM


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