Do Federal Agencies Belong in Cloud Computing Networks?

22 Nov Do Federal Agencies Belong in Cloud Computing Networks?

eWeek, NY, By Roy Mark, November 20, 2008
 
Given the current state of the economy and the yawning federal deficit, the efficiency and cost-savings associated with cloud computing are prompting U.S. federal IT agencies to flirt with the cloud platform. Slowly, of course, since it is the government, after all. Cloud computing has become so pervasive in the enterprise that even federal agencies are moving—slowly, of course—in the direction of on-demand computing. Given the current state of the economy and the yawning federal deficit, the efficiency and cost-savings associated with cloud computing may prompt an even quicker shift to the cloud. “In many cases, agencies are already using the Internet,” said Drew Cohen, a vice president in Booz Allen Hamilton’s Defense IT practice who is working closely with federal agencies. “The words and terms are new, but the core tools have been evolving for some time. It’s really just a maturing of things that are already going on.” DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency), for instance, awarded contracts in 2006 for on-demand computing services. The idea was for government customers to pay for computing and storage capacity on an as-needed basis instead of having to invest in new hardware and software. Interested customers had to work through the Defense Enterprise Computing Center to develop solutions. Taking another step toward the cloud, DISA recently introduced RACE (Rapid Access Computing Environment), in which Department of Defense users go to a Web-based portal and provision their own operating environments based on standard Department of Defense architecture. RACE contractors include Hewlett-Packard, Apptis, Sun Microsystems and Vion. “DISA likes that model in terms of supporting their customers,” Cohen said, though noting that DISA is developing its own cloud for a number of security and privacy reasons. “Building your own cloud is whole different thing. When you build your own cloud, when does it become a cloud?”