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9/16/2013
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10 Ways Government Clouds Have Changed This Year

Learn how 2013's cloud predictions are quickly unfolding for government CIOs.

Top 10 Government IT Innovators Of 2013
Top 10 Government IT Innovators Of 2013
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In December 2012, Cary Landis and I made 10 predictions about how cloud computing was likely to evolve this year and how those changes were likely to impact enterprise computing. But things are moving fast in the world of cloud computing, reaffirming some of those predictions and altering others.

Here's a recap of what I predicted then and an update of how I see those trends unfolding now.

1. Cloud technologies will converge.

The cloud will continue to forge a massive convergence of technologies -- similar to the evolution of the cellphone to the smartphone. The lines between platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and cloud services brokerages will blur into a conceptual operating system for the "Web as a platform" -- providing tools to allow users to take advantage of multiple cloud solutions at once, and bringing the cloud closer to the end user in more meaningful ways.

Update: As the cloud computing marketplace continues to rapidly evolve and grow, the focus for buyers is shifting from software-as-a-service (SaaS) to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). There is also a heightened awareness about choices around building, buying or leasing IT infrastructure services. For government agencies, this will lead to more options and opportunities, and will drive the need for additional analysis and a deeper understanding of how cloud computing technologies can be used to improve mission performance.

[ Do you have a Plan B? Learn Lessons From A Failed Federal IT Project. ]

2. Custom software will hit the cloud.

For years, everyone looking at cloud computing has been talking about the "low-hanging fruit" of commodity email and infrastructure. But non-commodity custom software is beginning to move to the cloud in a meaningful manner. As of this year, PaaS and other cloud technologies have reached a maturity level that allows developers and integrators to build highly customized, complex offerings on the cloud.

Update: While PaaS technology continues to rapidly mature, the marketplace is still learning how to take the PaaS concept and extend it into the custom application development arena. The evolution of "optimal DevOps" business models and other operating models may push widespread adoption into next year. This trend will drive the adoption of PaaS by federal system integrators. Vendors that use PaaS to deliver custom software products, however, will be able to gain a significant cost advantage over those that do not, especially in the low-price, technically acceptable, government procurement environment.

3. Integration will become the new "killer app."

The term "killer app" generally refers to the technology that's so necessary it drives adoption of a computing paradigm. Complexity is the problem of the cloud era. The cloud is evolving into a hodgepodge of disparate cloud services from vendors that are scattered all over the world. IT professionals will turn to cloud services brokers to manage the growing complexity problem by integrating heterogeneous infrastructure services, while software developers will turn to PaaS for integrating disparate Web services to deliver seamless user experiences to their customers.

Update: Cloud services brokerage is becoming a key component for managing hybrid enterprise IT environments. A new entrant in the marketplace, the cloud access security broker, is emerging as a vital and complementary brokerage service. As cloud service standardization becomes more prevalent, federal system integrators will quickly morph into government service integrators that are able to deliver fully integrated, secure cloud-based service solutions on demand.

4. India and outsourcing countries will drive industry adoption of PaaS worldwide.

The software development outsourcing industry thrives on the value proposition of more for less; it's what it does well. In 2013, PaaS will be adopted by companies in India and in other major outsourcing countries in a rapid and notable fashion. It will cause a ripple effect throughout industry because these outsourcing companies are so integral to modern business operations. The cloud makes geographic boundaries irrelevant.

Update: Major outsourcing countries are exploring how PaaS can be used to reduce development cost and increase margins. This is crucial to these countries' continued ability to be the preferred providers of skilled labor. If such efforts are not successful enough, though, security concerns and the need to preserve domestic jobs will drive a retrenchment of the worldwide offshoring business. The economic savings enabled by offshoring also will spur an intense review of software acquisition policies. Continued enforcement of onshore development and software developer citizenship requirements may no longer become financially viable for many agencies.

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ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
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9/18/2013 | 2:06:42 AM
re: 10 Ways Government Clouds Have Changed This Year
I don't have data on it, but I haven't seen & heard a lot of healthcare IT activity in PaaS -- or even the more basic IaaS. Even if secure exchange gets stronger, I suspect healthcare to move more slowly than other indsutries to cloud platforms. Might not move til there are healthcare-centric cloud infrastructure.

UPMC CIO recently talked about the coming need for it due to huge data growth (genomics, images, e-records). Here's a link: http://www.informationweek.com...
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
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9/18/2013 | 12:38:43 AM
re: 10 Ways Government Clouds Have Changed This Year
Point 5: I don't think it was ever the goal, exactly, of cloud proponents to reduce the number of data centers. Granted, it was a goal of federal IT managers to reduce the total number of federal data centers. But look at the growth in smart phone use -- where do people think all those apps are running? On their phones? No, they're in a cloud data center, and lots of data centers have been needed to power those apps, On the other hand, moving bits around is more efficient than people searching store to store for the item they want, or finding the next coffee bar they visit.
WKash
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WKash,
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9/17/2013 | 7:18:22 PM
re: 10 Ways Government Clouds Have Changed This Year
There are many good points in this article. On the emergence of cloud brokers, it would seem there will two types: One type will focus on supply and demand needs and perform a pricing and arbitrage role. The other is a more technical broker, who performs the technical work to move data into and out different clouds. Do you see that distinction becoming more pronounced, or more blurred?
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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9/17/2013 | 5:02:22 PM
re: 10 Ways Government Clouds Have Changed This Year
Kevin, I agree with your emphasis on point 3. Do you see any early leaders for govt IT community among providers in this space?
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