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IBM Jumps Into Government Cloud Computing

Big Blue is launching infrastructure-as-a-service targeted at federal agencies and piloting a community cloud effort for local governments.

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IBM is entering the government cloud computing market, announcing Monday the availability of infrastructure-as-a-service offerings for federal government and a pilot project to offer community cloud services to municipalities.

For the feds, IBM looks to tap into the nascent market for infrastructure services, one that will surely grow quickly over the next few years due to Obama administration mandates, with a new offering, the Federal Community Cloud.

The Federal Community Cloud will offer multi-tenant infrastructure services designed to meet security requirements for "moderate impact" data as defined by the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), which governs federal cybersecurity requirements, and is already drawing interest from federal customers, Dave McQueeney, chief technology officer for IBM's U.S. federal business, said in an interview.

While IBM wasn't party to the General Services Administration's recent infrastructure-as-a-service award, two federal clients have already committed to using the service, and will sponsor certification of the Federal Community Cloud under the forthcoming standardized FedRAMP security accreditation process, McQueeney said. Other agencies will then be able to leverage that certification in order to accelerate their adoption of IBM's services rather than, as in the past, each new agency that wanted to use the service having to go through a full certification and accreditation.

McQueeney expects the Federal Community Cloud to be used first and foremost for test and development environments, as well as to provide surge capacity for internal systems that need to deal with occasional surges of demand. Eventually, he said, he expects some business processes to move to the cloud, in the way that some banks are now digitally processing mortgage applications via external cloud providers.

While the Federal Community Cloud offering today only includes Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows Server-based infrastructure services and consulting, IBM plans to add platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service going forward.

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