IBM said Federal Community Cloud benefits include a secure, private, multi-tenant cloud that meets federal government requirements; flexibility to control technology environments and operation costs to match fluctuations in demand; cost reductions by eliminating the need to own infrastructure or software licenses; faster implementation of development and test environments, application, and web hosting and backup; access to distributed information and advanced analytics solutions via cloud-based applications; and consulting services and infrastructure as a service, with plans to soon add platform as a service and software as a service.
IBM is currently working with 15 federal government organizations -- including the Department of Housing & Urban Development, Department of Defense (Army, Navy, and Air Force), Department of Homeland Security, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Health & Human Services -- to provide cloud and data center capabilities to quickly build, manage, operate, and analyze complex computing environments.
The company also said the Federal Community Cloud is in the process of obtaining Fed Ramp certification to meet Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) compliance standards, a requirement for government IT contractors, and will be operated and maintained in accordance with federal security guidelines.
Security and privacy of sensitive data, such as medical records, is a key component of the Federal Community Cloud, according to IBM executives, who also note that cloud computing has the potential to save costs and reduce risks.
"Legislation, policy, and privacy considerations are continuously evolving. HIPPA and Sarbanes Oxley, for example, imposed many new and expensive reporting and IT requirements," Ames said. "This is another potential value for a shared services cloud construct. Instead of each agency or commercial entity having to implement the required changes for compliance, it is implemented once in the cloud and used by its many consumers. The time, cost, and risk of compliance shortfalls would be significantly reduced."