Federal CIO Expands ‘Cloud First’ Policy to ‘Future First’
Newly installed Federal Chief Information Officer and Administrator Steven VanRoekel made his first big policy announcements during a speech at the Xerox PARC headquarters, and as expected, he's carrying his predecessor's "Cloud First" initiative to the logical next level: shutting down redundant data centers ("Shared First"), promoting increased mobility for government employees and investing in emerging technological standards ("Future First").
VanRoekel actually did a pretty solid job of keeping his remarks (link to PDF) to the point, so here's the pertinent part of his speech for TalkinCloud readers (emphasis mine):
"That’s why we’re shutting down duplicative, underutilized data centers and optimizing the remainder. We recently announced that we are expanding the scope of of data center consolidation plans and creating these efficiencies even faster – 962 data centers by the end of 2015, exceeding the original goal of 800, and 472 by end of next year – and we expect to yield $3 to $5 billion in savings in out years.
And this same logic accounts for our shift to the cloud. Cloud moves us away from a capital-intensive model and toward a more flexible operational model where agencies only have to pay for what they use. And shifting to the cloud doesn’t just save money – it often provides better service, including the ability to scale up rapidly in real-time to meet increased demand."
And part of that transition, as VanRoekel explained, is investing in mobile infrastructure: For half the cost of printing the 50,000 page Federal Register last year, he said, the employee who needed it could have purchased a tablet, downloaded the PDF and had access to productivity-boosting search functions. It's all a matter of efficiency and elimination of waste.
Other highlights included VanRoekel's praise for how the cloud can actually boost the government's cybersecurity efforts — after all, private sector providers such as Google have expertise that the government doesn't.
But I have to say the most interesting part was VanRoekel's announcement of the Future First initiative, which goes beyond just cloud computing, and places an emphasis on government investments in virtualization, XML and open standards. And he's asking cloud service providers and other IT pros to give their 2 cents on refining this initiative going forward.
I have to admit, I'm intrigued: It's obvious he recognizes former CIO Vivek Kundra's foresight in getting the federal government over to the cloud. But I didn't think he'd jump right into promoting open standards and investment therein so early in his tenure. We'll be watching closely as his ideas turn into actual policy.