Governments and Cloud Computing – Where Do They Stand?

Governments and Cloud Computing – Where Do They Stand?

“The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would steal them away.”
– Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), 40th US President.

Reagan’s views, though decades old, are still shared by the majority of the populace the world over. Governments across the world are considered the very antithesis of efficiency, adhering to long-held beliefs that have lost relevance and generally, averse to change.

Governments have been traditionally slow adopters of new technology, and with the bugbear of supposed security concerns surrounding the nascent field of cloud computing, the latter can expect little support from official circles. That was the long-held belief.

Fortunately, things have improved in the recent past. Not only have governments encouraged innovative technologies through research grants, they have, in certain cases, adopted them as well. Let’s look at some of the positive steps towards cloud computing taken by national governments across the world.

US Department of Defense:
DISA – The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is developing several cloud-based application for use by the military, such as Forge.mil, GCDS and RACE.
NATO – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is working with IBM to develop cloud-based information compatibility between its 28 member-states.
(See: NATO set to rule the cloud with IBM’s help)

US Department of the Interior:
NBC – The National Business Center (NBC) has the following six cloud-based applications available for commercial use: NBCGrid (IaaS), NBCFiles (Cloud Storage), NBCStage (PaaS), NBC Hybrid Cloud, NBCApps (SaaS Marketplace), & NBCAuth.

US Department of Energy:
National Laboratories – They are researching the use of cloud services for scientific computing and increasing bandwidth.

US Department of Commerce:
NIST – The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is responsible for setting standards and determining the role of government in cloud computing. To that effect, it is organizing seminars and panel discussions.

Australian Department of Finance and Deregulation:
AGIMO – The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has recently released a key consultation paper outlining the government’s strategy to shift its processes to the cloud.

Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications:
Digital Japan Creation Project – Also called the ICT Hatoyama Plan, this calls for creating a nationwide cloud computing infrastructure tentatively called the Kasumigaseki Cloud to improve the national economy.

UK Government CIO Council:
G-Cloud – This is a a UK onshore, private government cloud computing infrastructure incorporating Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Middleware/Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) under the Digital Britain initiative.

Canadian Department of Public Works Government Services:
Is promoting the advantage of the cold Canadian landscape as a prime location for the construction of large energy efficient cloud computing data centers.

As is seen from the examples above, national governments have also started embracing cloud computing. With the last recession hitting government budgets as much as individual citizens, the cost-cutting functionality of cloud computing holds a definite attraction.

As early as September last year, US CIO Vivek Kundra had said that the US government could not afford to invest in traditional data centers to support its IT needs, citing a doubling in the energy cost at federal data centers between 2000 and 2006. “Why should the government pay for and build infrastructure that is available for free?” he had said. “In these tough economic times, the federal government must buy smarter.

The aforementioned steps are just the first symptoms of this global phenomenon, the “smart choice” for governments worldwide.

By Sourya Biswas

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