Federal government has leadership role in migration to cloud

Is the federal government out in front when it comes to moving to cloud computing?

Photo: ecommercetimes.com


Jeffrey M. Kaplan is Managing Director of THINKstrategies, Inc. and recently wrote an article about the adoption of cloud.

He told Fed Cloud Blog that he thinks cloud is going to become increasingly important in 2010 — and that the federal government has already taken a leadership role in this sphere.

Fed Cloud Blog: We read your article discussing cloud computing and one of the more interesting things was that you said, “Those who don’t make the move in 2010, will not only be left behind, but risk losing their jobs, as well.”

Talk a little bit about how this applies to the private sector — and do you think this is going to apply to the federal government, too?

Jeffrey Kaplan: It absolutely is.

So, let’s start with the overall thought behind this, and that is that, first of all, the cloud computing marketplace is evolving quite rapidly.

These Internet or Web-based alternatives are becoming truly viable alternatives or options for IT organizations to consider, as well as the business end-users that they may be supporting.

What we’ve seen is the evolution of this marketplace that began with the success of software-as-a-service, or alternatives to on-premise applications.

That effort was led by companies like SalesForce.com in the CRM space, as well as Google with its Google Apps alternatives to Microsoft Office.

With the success of those applications has come a new generation of computing services and those have been driven by companies like Amazon with their Amazon Web services, which allow organizations to basically acquire computing power by the MIP or even by the hour.

That has become a very popular alternative to going out and actually purchasing more computing power that basically sits around in a data center someplace whether its being used or not.

So, in today’s tough economic times, it’s nice to have a more flexible option than the old way of having to go out and buy more and more product.

FCB: So, how will this effect employment?

JK: Well, it effects it in a number of ways.

There was actually an interesting article in The Boston Globe [recently] talking about the fundamental change in employment in the workplace, where more and more people are finding themselves working as freelancers rather than full time employees — and that the structure of the workplace is changing where more and more organizations prefer these kinds of freelancers, as opposed to making a commitment to a full time person.

The Web permits more people to take advantage of applications that were not at their disposal in the past.

They can now use, for their own personal purposes, as well as within more dispersed workplaces, to share information, to collaborate around business processes, and even to communicate more effectively between organizations.

FCB: [So] the stereotype is that the federal government is often behind when it comes to these sorts of IT developments. That’s not always the case . . . but there are some federal agencies that are really wary when it comes to doing this kind of stuff.

JK: Well, certainly there are, but the Obama administration has stated even before it came to office that it’s a firm proponent of cloud computing alternatives and it’s new CIO has really been driving that effort.

In fact, the federal government launched a Web site in the fall of 2009 — Apps.gov — which is a terrific site that includes an assortment of Web-based applications that various federal and government agencies — state and local, as well — can take advantage of.

But, it also has a tremendous amount of best practice information about cloud computing: what it means, how it can be deployed to meet organizational requirements, and, not only the benefits, but risks that have to be overcome in order to ensure that it’s properly secured and is reliable and is meeting organizational business objectives.

They also have, through [NIST], helped to define the meaning of cloud computing, which is one of those terms that means many things to many people.

So, in those regards, the federal government is actually playing a leadership role in the overall migration to cloud computing.

Look for part 2 of our chat with Kaplan coming later this week.

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