While creating the previous post, I came across a General Services Administration (GSA) landing page featuring current news as well as a link to all of their 2010 press releases.
In addition to the announcement I highlighted about cloud security, two others were featured and both were about government cloud computing. Here's what it looks like:
|Nov 2, 2010 - Government Closer to Universal Cloud-Computing Security Assessment and Authorization Program|
|News Release 11/2/2010 Government Closer to Universal Cloud-Computing Security Assessment and Authorization Program|
Read More >
|Oct 19, 2010 - Cloud-Based Infrastructure as a Service Comes to Government|
|News Release 10/19/2010 Cloud-Based Infrastructure as a Service Comes to Government|
Read More >
|Oct 26, 2010 - Data.gov Reaches for the Sky with Additional Cloud Services|
|News Release 10/26/2010 Data.gov Reaches for the Sky with Additional Cloud Services|
Read More >
This may not seem remarkable 'til you examine the listing of all the other releases this year and see that none relate to cloud computing. (My personal favorite is the one on goats clearing brush behind the Federal Courthouse in Pasadena: GSA Deploys Goat Herd to Save Energy, Money.)
These have all been released within a period of a few weeks, so it seems the current focus is pretty strong. That made me curious about what other big governments may be doing and the answer is, quite a bit.
For example, an article in the UK Guardian details how something called the "G-Cloud" would help cut government expenses. And if you've been following the news from Britan, you know that austerity measures are well underway.
The outlined plan would set up a series of consolidated data centers costing about £250m each. These would offer shared services and, once established, more than 500 current data centers become candidates for shut down. Once complete, they hope to gain as much as £3.2bn in annual savings.
But they get it too that the benefits go well beyond the financial:
"The G-Cloud plans could support everything from pooled government data centres to a communal email solution, collaboration tools and staff-editable wikis (like Wikipedia, but private). Part of the plan points to the potential of an internal government "app store" so that recommended tools could be shared and distributed among government departments. By 2015, the strategy says, as much as 80% of the government departments could be using this system."
"The benefits for the government are largely the same as the advantages for business – reliability, cost savings and access to innovation by sharing resources. .... Another benefit could be the opportunity to develop more efficient, green practices."
By now the pattern is well established. Businesses and government agencies look at cloud computing as a way to cut expenses. Then, as they gain more insight to the innovative possibilities, they see the potential for new ways of doing business - creative ways to deliver more effective and efficient services.
There are also the common stumbling blocks - the cultural shifts - that mean managing IT differently, changing procurement practices, developing new skills and staff expectations.
These are sometimes the toughest to do quickly. But the potential gains will are clearly building momentum.
Given their huge annual expenditures on IT (US is about $80B) it's appropriate to be curious about broader government cloud adoption. They are a key indicator of speed and standards.
I'll keep looking around and periodically share updates.