Federal Push for Cloud Computing

By rafaeldesigner

Cloud computing, the practice of moving data and files to be stored on the Internet instead of local data centers, is fast becoming the new wave of the web. Many large companies, such as Amazon and Google, offer cloud computing services to companies looking to save money on physical data centers and the energy it costs to maintain them. Even Apple has announced their new iCloud service to allow users to share files across multiple mobile devices. Instead of being the last to sign up, the federal government is jumping onto this new technology. However, is cloud computing the best option for the United States?

Vivek Kundra, the White House’s CIO, has been encouraging the feds to move to cloud computing to reduce the $80 billion budget the government spends each year in IT costs. Kundra is actively working to move much of the country’s 2,100 data centers onto the cloud. In fact, the goal is to have 40% of this data moved by 2015. Kundra has stated that his plan will save the government at least $3 billion a year.

Kundra has initiated a policy that requires new projects to use cloud computing and that at least 3 existing project be transferred to the cloud by next summer. The agencies that are not concerned over security problems had already began this process. In fact, the Agriculture department has added 120,000 accounts to the cloud and moved 46,000 more. This type of service is perfect for low risk computing.

However, there is some resistance from technology insiders because of the issues of security for data on the cloud. Cloud computing would mean that an agency’s emails, data and programs would be stored and handled by independent contractors and then delivered to federal employees over the Internet. Several attacks from assumed overseas intelligence earlier this year have increased security concerns, especially for defense and intelligence information. The Pentagon was hacked in July and over 24,000 confidential files were accessed. Amazon.com, who offers cloud computing services, had a technical breach in April with their cloud service. Insiders are concerned over the large risk of security issues with cloud computing.

There are also concerns around the ripple effect that reducing the $80 billion budget may cause. This is because the government employs some many independent contractors to service its technology these. Moving the work to the cloud could mean a loss of private sectors jobs and less funding for advances in technology from the federal government.

This post is also available in other languages.