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9/17/2009
09:48 AM
John Foley
John Foley
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Amazon, Others Will Develop Government Clouds, Too

Google, wisely, showed up at the U.S. government's cloud computing announcement this week with a plan to offer cloud services tailored to the needs of government agencies. You can bet that Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, and other cloud providers will follow suit.

Google, wisely, showed up at the U.S. government's cloud computing announcement this week with a plan to offer cloud services tailored to the needs of government agencies. You can bet that Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, and other cloud providers will follow suit.I have no inside information on Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, or Salesforce, but I don't need to hear of their plans to know that they will respond. The opportunity to offer cloud services to Uncle Sam is simply too great to pass up. And it's becoming clear that, while the feds are eager to deploy cloud services (witness the new Apps.gov site), they will require some tweaking of commercial services to suit their needs.

Among the requirements that cloud service providers can anticipate from government customers: dedicated infrastructure rather than multitenant; location-specific data storage inside the U.S.; detailed information on data center facilities; accreditation in designated government specifications (FISMA, for example); and government-specific licensing terms.

Not all of these steps will be insignificant. For example, offering cloud services on dedicated hardware is a break with the multitenant architectures that cloud service providers prefer. But they will do what they must to get the business of the General Services Administration and other federal cloud customers.

There's growing evidence that cloud providers are preparing to serve this market. Amazon has leased 110,000 square feet of data center space in northern Virginia, according to DataCenterKnowledge.com. Amazon's recently introduced Virtual Private Cloud could be used by government agencies to keep sensitive data on premises while tapping into Amazon's EC2 cloud. Amazon CTO Werner Vogels in a blog post says he's "looking forward to working closely with the federal CIOs to make sure our services can meet their requirements." That's what I'm talking about.

Salesforce has been a long-time proponent of the multitenant architecture, but Marc Benioff's company already knows how to break from that mold -- it only need a push.

And Microsoft, in a remarkable display of cloud portability, is already taking steps to move its Windows Azure cloud infrastructure from a data center from one state to another to avoid a hefty cloud tax. You can be sure that Microsoft is capable of developing a government cloud for federal CIO Vivek Kundra and his team and that it will.

Google was the first vendor to reveal plans for a government cloud. It won't be the last.

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