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TechAmerica Names Benioff, Capellas To Chair Cloud Commission

Some 71 industry and academic experts have three months to develop recommendations on how the government can optimize deployment of cloud computing technologies.

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Technology industry leaders Marc Benioff and Michael Capellas are co-chairing a new commission that industry group TechAmerica has formed aimed at helping to steer how the federal government adopts cloud computing.

TechAmerica's Commission on the Leadership Opportunity in U.S. Deployment of the Cloud, or CLOUD2, is comprised of 71 experts from the technology industry and academia. The group has a three-month mission to provide recommendations to the Obama administration for how the government can optimize its deployment of cloud-computing technologies.

The commission, which will be split up into groups for public-sector deployment and commercial policy, also will encourage the administration to set public policies that spur the development of innovation in cloud technology as well as U.S. economic growth, according to TechAmerica.

The move comes as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is hosting its second annual workshop on the cloud to discuss the progress of the federal roadmap for implementing the technology.

NIST creates and oversees technology standards for the federal government, but some in the industry feel the group has been moving too slowly in creating cloud standards and recommendations. NIST plans to report at the workshop on the progress being made among its working groups on cloud standards.

In addition to Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com, and Capellas, chairman and CEO of VCE, a joint venture between Cisco and EMC, the TechAmerica commission boasts membership from executives of other top technology companies. It also includes representatives from technology-oriented academic institutions, including John Mallery, of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and Michael Nelson, visiting professor of Internet studies in Georgetown University's Communication, Culture and Technology program, who join Benioff and Capellas in co-chairing the commission.

Other technology executives in the group will lead specific areas of research. CSC president of North American public sector Jim Sheaffer will serve as vice chairman and oversee the commission's recommendations for the public sector, while another vice chairman, Microsoft VP of technology policy and strategy Dan Reed, will lead commercial policy considerations.

Once the commission has completed its research and discussions, it will create a report and share its public-sector recommendations with U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra, and its commercial recommendations with Commerce secretary Gary Locke and Commerce undersecretary for standards and technology Pat Gallagher.

In December, Kundra mandated a "cloud first" policy among federal agencies, requiring that they consider cloud solutions first when planning new IT projects. The move spurred a flurry of activity on the federal cloud front and has created interest among stakeholders in both the public and private sectors for setting policies and standards for federal implementation.

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