Kundra releases federal cloud computing strategy

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Although he was given an entire half a year in which to finish a strategy on federal adoption of cloud computing, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra accomplished that feat in a mere two months.

The approximately 10,000 word strategy is dated Feb. 8 and was posted Feb. 11 onto cio.gov, although it was unavailable for most of that day due to the website being down. The Office of Management and Budget's Dec. 9 25 point plan for reforming federal information technology management and acquisition had called on Kundra to finish the strategy within six months. The plan also calls on agencies to adopt a "cloud first" strategy for IT.

Kundra's new strategy estimates that by using a cloud computing model for IT service delivery, federal data center infrastructure costs can drop by 30 percent. That amounts to about $7.2 billion, going on a figure in the report that agencies spend approximately 30 percent of the federal government's $80 billion annual IT budget on data center infrastructure. It's unclear from the strategy how contingent the savings are on agencies replacing legacy applications with a new software-as-a-service equivalent, or whether it'll come about if agencies also just port applications into a cloud environment.

The strategy does caution agencies to be careful in selecting services for migration, noting that if an application has "a proliferation of subtle or poorly understood interdependencies with other systems," its risks "breakage" when migrated to the cloud, thus making it "a less attractive choice for early cloud adoption."

In addition, the strategy urges agencies to prioritize services for migration to the cloud according to two variables, those of "value" and "readiness." High value and the most-ready services should move to the cloud first, the strategy explains.

When it comes to buying cloud space, agencies should aggregate demand by pooling purchasing power, even possibly at a governmentwide level, the strategy adds. The General Services Administration means to establish contract vehicles for such commodity services that all agencies can draw on. Contracts for cloud services should include a provision enabling third parties to assess security controls, the strategy says.

The strategy also advises agencies to manage "services rather than assets," an accomplishment that will require a shift in mindset, it adds. 

As a next step, agencies should "think through" the strategy, it says. "Each agency will evaluate its technology sourcing strategy so that cloud computing options are fully considered, consistent with the cloud first policy," it adds. 

For more:
- download the strategy on the newly restored cio.gov (.pdf)

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