US government adopts 'cloud-first' policy

Dramatic sea change: Office of Management and Budget now requires federal agencies to default to cloud-based solutions, when available.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

The Washington Post's Marjorie Censer reports that US federal agencies are now required to adopt a "cloud-first" policy when considering new information technology purchases. The policy is the result of an overhaul of the government's IT procurement process:

"Jeffrey Zients, the federal government's first chief performance officer, announced... that the Office of Management and Budget will now require federal agencies to default to cloud-based solutions 'whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists.'"

This is a dramatic sea-change in acceptance of the cloud technology approach, which was fairly new and radical just a couple of years ago -- and still is fraught with misgivings about information security.

Still, the financial benefits are too compelling to pass up, espcially for an $80-billion-a-year IT operation such as that of the US federal government. The cloud-first initiative may help the government in its efforts to reduce and consolidate its stable of 2,100 data centers. The government is moving to reduce that total by at least 40% by 2015.

There are other "smarter" IT approaches already in place. The General Services Administration maintains a government "app store," Apps.Gov, which provides agencies with access to various cloud platforms and applications.

Federal CIO Kundra Vivek has vowed to reign in and streamline the government's IT  budget by at least by five percent a year through aggressive and pro-active actions such as cloud computing, virtualization and data center consolidation. And, as a result, enable agencies across the board to better streamline their own programs.

(Photo by the author.)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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