Cloud computing has a supporter in Federal CIO Vivek Kundra, who told me in an April 23 interview that he saw potential for big savings with the cloud approach. In fact, the fed's information portal, USA.gov, is being moved to a cloud-computing infrastructure within weeks.
USA.gov, and the Spanish-language version of the portal, GobiernoUSA.gov, will soon be hosted by Terremark Worldwide, which lets customers pay for how much computing capability they need at any given time. Akamai Technologies will provide the content delivery network.
In an April 13 press release, the IT consulting firm that handled the deal, Aquilent, called it a "user friendly cloud computing infrastructure...also known as an 'Infrastructure As A Service' (IaaS)."
Yeah, cloud computing, IaaS ... lots of wink-wink tech industry buzzwords there. But what it boils down to is the GSA Office of Citizen Services, working with Aquilent, has found a way to cut way back on how much it's spending to run its Web site by having someone else host it in a way that it can share hardware and network resources with other organizations and companies.
As owner of the Web site, the Office of Citizen Services approved the Terremark deal, but Kundra was familiar with it. When asked his opinion, Kundra said "cloud computing in general" had a lot of potential. The federal government, he said, will be "rethinking the model of creating a center of gravity for technology, in that we're not making investments multiple times in the same technology."
He went on to say (and I'm paraphrasing here) that there really is no point in spending a lot of money on dedicated systems -- presumably in the name of security -- to publish data that's intended to be widely available to the public, such as the data on USA.gov.
Indeed, the public-facing USA.gov isn't the face to a database holding millions of social security numbers, and if it were, this deal might not have happened. Data security is still a top concern about cloud computing, despite Aquilent's point that "security in the virtual environment will be maintained at or above the levels of a physical environment." Whether that's true or not, the government is wise to recognize USA.gov as the perfect candidate for cloud computing.
And whenever we can cut the fat out of government, it's a good thing. In an April 22 interview, Martha Dorris, associate administrator of the Office of Citizen Services and Communications, said the Web site will cost 80% less to support using the scalable cloud model.
How does this strategy fit with your company's cloud computing plans? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section.
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