Cloud computing can break hold of global 'IT cartel' on governments: Vivek Kundra

In his first editorial after leaving office as US CIO, Vivek Kundra says cloud computing is inevitable for cash-strapped governments.

Former US CIO Vivek Kundra, now a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center, stated his case for cloud computing in The New York Times, pointing out that the US federal government -- let alone any government -- can no longer afford to be held hostage by what he calls a global "IT cartel." This "powerful group of private contractors encourages reliance on inefficient software and hardware that is expensive to acquire and to maintain," he maintains.

A "cloud-first" policy -- in which government agencies are required to review cloud-based solutions first -- can break this costly stranglehold, he says.

However, in a huge, far-flung organization such as the US government, such an idealistic policy can meet a lot of resistance, he says:

"Some agencies, like the General Services Administration, have embraced cloud computing; the agency has cut the I.T. costs on things as simple as its e-mail system by over 50 percent. But other agencies have balked. The State Department, for instance, has raised concerns about whether the cloud approach introduces security risks, since data is stored off site by private contractors."

One thing that will accelerate governments' embrace of cloud is the budget crisis, demanding draconian cuts. "Public and private organizations that preserve the status quo of wasteful spending will be punished, while those that embrace the cloud will be rewarded with substantial savings and 21st-century jobs," Kundra says.

(Photo Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET.)