Government Takes to the Cloud

The government isn’t always quick to latch on to a technology trend, but the case of cloud computing seems to provide an exception. Here's why.

Federal cloud computing summits, seminars, workshops, and/or conferences seem to be a weekly occurrence. But beyond the talk, deals are happening. Terremark has been selling enterprise cloud computing to the federal sector and points to and as Web sites that use the company’s cloud platform. And more activity is on tap. The General Services Administration this fall plans to award contracts to infrastructure as a service (IasS) providers. The IaaS approach will let customers rent processing, storage and networks, according to GSA.

Federal agencies will be able to purchase IaaS along with SaaS at the recently opened   In a blog post, Vivek Kundra, the federal CIO, described the GSA site as an “online storefront for federal agencies to quickly browse and purchase cloud-based IT services, for productivity, collaboration, and efficiency.” Interestingly, the GSA’s cloud services emporium is hosted by Savvis Inc.

What’s pushed the government to consider the cloud? Budget pressure is one factor: renting reduces capex. Another factor is familiarity. Clouds aren’t a huge departure for government in that quite a few agencies -- particularly those engaged in technical computing -- have tapped grid computing over the last eight years or so. Some observers view grid computing as a precursor to today’s cloud.

For service providers, the government’s interest in cloud presents a good news/bad news situation. The predisposition to adopt the cloud and actual evidence of projects bode well for future growth. But breaking into the government market is tough. The sales cycles can be long. And vendors need to be on the appropriate contract vehicles -- the GSA’s Schedule 70, for example -- to have any hope of landing business.

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