'Government as a Platform': Progress of Cloud Computing In the U.S. Government

By CIOReview | Monday, February 24, 2014
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FREMONT, CA: Similar to Fortune 500 companies accepting the cloud and using it in a big way, the U.S. Government too has realized its importance and has started its implementation it to cut costs. It is also allowing third parties to access its data to be used innovatively for its betterment. According to Dr. Rick Holgate, President, American Coucil for Technology (ACT), cloud is an innovative force that is sweeping the U.S. federal agencies and which is bringing in modern, flexible and agile ways to deliver services and technology to the customers; reports Joe McKendrick.

The cloud inside the Beltway (is the American idiom that characterizes matters that are, or seem to be, critical to the officials of the U.S. federal government, to its contractors and lobbyists, and to the corporate media) was launched with great potential and commitment several years ago; however a recent survey by Accenture suggests that the progress has been slow. The “Cloud First”, the 2011 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, demanded the federal agencies to contemplate on cloud based solutions anytime new solutions are required.  Cloud is part of the growing ‘Government as a Platform’ initiative which is being developed since Cloud First days.

The federal agencies impetus towards cloud computing is good; however the progress is not smooth. Holgate says that, “Progress with cloud has ‘depended on agencies’ missions and the level of comfort they can achieve with cloud computing. Many agencies, including the General Services Administration, have moved a number of their traditional internal IT services, including email and customer relationship management, to cloud-based commercial providers.” The Central Intelligence Agency, the major cloud consumer, contracts with the cloud providers to meet the needs for huge amounts of infrastructure on demand. “Cloud lowers the barrier to standing up new capabilities. We can start looking at huge volumes of data, and be more thoughtful and analytic about the way we do business. Cloud-type and shared environments enable us to stand up those types of capabilities much more easily,” he added. 

The Government is allowing others access and to use the data innovatively; due to which the internal operations of the government agencies are improving According to him, earlier it was not easy to look into the transactional data sets. Now the data can be easily understood and it can be determined where the inefficiencies are.

He concluded stating, “Innovation comes from all sorts of places in the organization. You need to make sure you have a way to surface the great ideas that occur within all organizations, and make sure that you bring all of those voices of creativity and innovation to the table as everyone is exposed to mobile capabilities and cloud-based platforms.”