Washington 2011: The year of the cloud

The U.S. government is adopting a "cloud-first" approach to tech and looking to reduce the number of data centers it operates.

The United States government is turning to the cloud as one of its ways to reduce waste and cut spending. Sure, that whole "reduce waste and cut spending" line is about as common in Washington as the old "You come here often" line in a singles bar.

But this time around, the government is tackling the problem by trying to put 21st Century technology into place anywhere it can. Earlier this month, the government announced that the Office of Management and Budget is now requiring federal agencies to use cloud services "whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists," according to The Washington Post.

Among the initiatives set to launch over the next six months are pilot efforts to give agencies more flexibility in how they budget for programs, as well as the revamping of oversight panels and the reduction of the number of government data centers.

Currently, the government has nearly 2,100 data centers but is looking to reduce that number by 40 percent by 2015. A consolidation plan for the closures, including target dates, is expected by March.

From the Washington Post:

The shift is part of a broader set of changes aimed at improving IT procurement. In recent months, the federal government has shut down or restructured a host of technology programs after they ran over budget and behind schedule...Cloud computing supporters said the move to Web-based computing should make it easier to consolidate data storage because the technology relies on a shared pool of resources, making it possible for networks, servers and other equipment to be used more efficiently.

The government will host an open meeting in December to provide details of its plans.

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