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government cloud computing plan

The United States government cloud computing plan, officially called the Federal Cloud Computing Initiative, is a plan to transition the US federal government’s information technology infrastructure to web-based IT services. Launched in September of 2009 by the Obama administration, the initiative seeks to identify common services and solutions amongst the government’s agencies and adopt a cloud computing business model to support them.

Created to support the administration’s Infrastructure Modernization Program, the primary goal of the Federal Cloud Computing Initiative is to modernize the government’s IT infrastructure and help agencies reduce costs.  The government as a whole spends $76 billion a year on IT and more than $19 billion of that is allocated to infrastructure costs. Each agency typically maintains its own data centers and server farms, resulting in hundreds of independent federal data centers. Reducing redundant infrastructure and services will lower energy consumption and improve data sharing among federal, state, and local governments.

Federal agencies can purchase government cloud-based IT services through Apps.gov, a website maintained by the General Services Administration (GSA). Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) vendors must be on a GSA Schedule 70 in order to provide services to government agencies and get listed on Apps.gov.

The Federal Cloud Computing Initiative has come into some criticism, largely in regard to the lack of standardization around security and the lack of a clear transition strategy and criteria for agencies to use when determining what IT services to transition to the cloud. The administration says it will work with the public sector to standardize areas of security, interoperability and data portability.

Learn more:

Cloudbook maintains a list of government cloud computing initiatives.

The Apps.gov website has more information about how the federal government and cloud computing.

 

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This was last updated in August 2010

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