White House wants cloud computing

Budget would boost federal use of cloud computing

Cloud computing will play a major role in modernizing the federal government’s technology infrastructure, according to a White House document published today with the administration's 2010 budget request.

White House officials want agencies to launch pilot projects that identify common services and solutions and that focus on cloud computing, according to the “Analytical Perspectives” document released with the budget request.

Cloud computing refers to an arrangement in which an organization pays a service provider to deliver applications, computing power and storage via the Web. Under the White House’s plan, several agencies could access a common application from the cloud.

Cloud computing pilot projects would address the risks and new policies required to implement the emerging technology, the document states. Securing a traditional data center in the walls of an agency is different than securing a cloud computing network where computer servers are often owned and operated by a third party, it said.

“The federal community will need to actively put in place new security measures which will allow dynamic application use and information-sharing to be implemented in a secure fashion,” according to the budget document.

One pilot project would be for end-user communications and computing and would examine how to provide secure provisioning, support and operation of end-user applications across a spectrum of devices. It would also address the needs of teleworking and a mobile workforce.

Another pilot project would look at enterprise software as a service, according to the document. The project may examine how to deliver a financial management applications, for example, to several agencies via the cloud. The document does not say when these projects would begin.

Moving to cloud computing would require an initial investment but should result in savings in the future, according to the document.

“Expected savings in the out years, as more agencies reduce their costs of hosting system in their own data centers, should be many times the original investment,” the document states.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Tue, May 12, 2009 Scott Los Angeles

I find the "Cloud" a nebulous cumulo-nimbus uncertainty. Is it secure, scalable, cost-effective, and reliable? The answer is a misty maybe. Let's hope the "Cloud" doesn't rain on our parade!

Tue, May 12, 2009 Albany, NY

Those who have little experience with government or with real life application development projects fantacize that they're just like highway projects. They can be broken down into common components and standardized. It's obvious to them that fiscal systems can be built more efficiently for several giant federal agencies than letting each go their own way. 'Common sense" routinely convinces businessmen that government business rules can be bent to fit a package, and bells and whistles can be left behind. The consultants are quick to confirm the delusions - change orders will keep them in the black. The truth is that application development projects, especially in government, are subject to enormous incalculables. And risk rises geometrically with project size. Government business rules are like concrete, tied to unyielding laws, regulations and policy requirements. Love Obama, but this looks like classic chump thinking and big trouble.

Tue, May 12, 2009 Oregon

This one has me scratching my head. Currently the government is using NARA for all the archiving data bases and paper copies. If we are going paperless why couldn't we incoporate NARA's success to continue to store data?

Tue, May 12, 2009 Newby

The internal IT beaurocrats will always try and scare the tax payers away from the cloud concept - it is their livelihood at stake. The truth is Internal Data Centres are an incredible cost, offering no flexible scalability and no more secuity than an external one sitting in a distributed cloud. And as for hacking - see moving target.

Tue, May 12, 2009 Steamed Salem, OR

Naivety and ignorance can be a gift but it can also be stupidity; I think in this case, is the later.

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