Federal CIO Vivek Kundra is well known for innovative approaches to government IT. He introduced Google Apps to the city of Washington, D.C. when he was its CTO of back in 2007.
He's brought with him to the federal government a philosophy that cloud computing could save money, facilitate faster procurement and deployment of technologies, and allow government agencies to concentrate more on strategic IT projects.
InformationWeek sat down with him at his office last week to discuss his thoughts about cloud computing in government, and what it would take to make cloud technologies easier to adopt in the federal space.
InformationWeek: The President's 2010 budget request mentions cloud computing pilot projects. Give us a bit more context around those.
Federal CIO Vivek Kundra: One of the biggest challenges has been that agencies and departments have thought and spent money vertically, yet technology is most effective when it's implemented horizontally in terms of fundamentally transforming business processes.
The other challenge that it used to be people would come to work and have access to the greatest technologies, because the government and the corporate environment [were] investing in technologies that were leading edge. Now, we've been left behind and we're seeing massive innovation happening in the consumer space.
Part of that budget in cloud computing is to leverage platforms that are free [and] make sure we look at cloud computing in terms of platforms, which can be deployed horizontally across the government.
The cloud computing investment in the 2010 budget reflects the administration's desire to drive down costs, drive innovation across the federal government, [and] make sure we're making available technologies to the workforce that may be available to them elsewhere.
InformationWeek: Are you setting aside money in the 2010 federal budget for this?
Kundra: If you looked at some of the things the GSA [General Services Administration] has come out with, whether the RFI or the summit on cloud computing, those are ideas being fleshed out as we speak. As we get closer to October, project plans and specific funding out of $33 million dollars [in the budget request] will be determined.
InformationWeek: What are these pilots and what are you trying to do with them?
Kundra: We're trying to turn this into a scaling problem, and we're trying to make sure that we're looking at the lowest common denominator across all agencies, very simple tools like blogs, and video, and lightweight workflow platforms or public participation platforms.