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Can the Cloud Save the Budget?

By Terry Brown

EMC

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While the federal budget has many people seeing red, some are seeing silver instead, in the form of a good news/good news burst of government enthusiasm for cloud computing.

“It’s the one issue just about every tech company can agree on in Washington,” POLITICO’S Morning Tech reported. “The government’s push into cloud computing has a silver lining for the sector.”

That governmental push got a nudge from newly appointed federal CIO Steven VanRoekel, who assumed the top tech job from the departing Vivek Kundra. Kundra earned praise for injecting private-sector efficiency into federal IT management and making cloud computing a top government IT priority. VanRoekel, according to The Washington Post, will use his new role “to introduce new technologies to improve government service as well as focus on cutting costs in an age of austerity.”

“In a time when the government is seeking to do more with less and the commercial sector is being called upon to create jobs and grow the economy, now is the time to act on the cloud.” TechAmerica Foundation

“The productivity gap between where the private sector has gone over the last two decades and where the government has gone is ever-widening,” VanRoekel told reporters, attributing it largely to what The Post reported as “government’s slow uptake and lack of spending on new technology.” Closing the gap, VanRoekel said, “can be done in a way that actually saves money, saves resources and everything else.”

Cloud’s clout
If the government gets it, rest assured there is a movement afoot. While the Fed’s conversion to the cloud is in its infancy, the potential is huge for both changing its approach to IT management and influencing the struggling U.S. budget. Cloud initiatives are expected to save the government $3 billion or more annually, with the goal of shifting a quarter of its $80 billion in IT spending to the cloud by 2015—evidence of the budgetary clout the cloud brings to government.

Georgetown University’s Visiting Professor of Internet Studies Michael Nelson praised Washington’s efforts introduce the cloud to the public sector, telling nextgov.com, "The cloud is as important as the Web was and it's at about the same state now that the Web was in 1995."

Nelson, a member of a TechAmerica Foundation commission co-chaired by VCE Company CEO Michael Capellas and charged with advising the Obama Administration on cloud policy, supported the commission’s recommendation for sweeping adoption of cloud technologies in government, industry, and academia. The commission concluded, “In a time when the government is seeking to do more with less and the commercial sector is being called upon to create jobs and grow the economy, now is the time to act on the cloud.”

Read the full report, “Cloud First, Cloud Fast: Recommendations for Innovation, Leadership and Job Creation,” here.

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