Analysis of U.S. CIO Federal Cloud Computing Strategy

By | February 15, 2011

Yesterday, February 8, 2011, the Office of the U.S. Chief Information Office released its Federal Cloud Computing Strategy.  In no uncertain terms, this strategy is focused primarily on one key factor—deliver more value for the same dollars spent.  Semantically, to me, this is a very different statement than establishing this strategy around lowering IT costs.  That is, according to what I can discern, it is not the intention of this document to promote the use of Cloud Computing to reduce the overall spending on IT (at least not at this time), although, one would hope that would be a positive side-effect, but instead, use the same allocated funds on Cloud Computing with the intent of receiving a greater value for that same spend.

This small, and perhaps arcane, difference between costs reduction and greater value is of critical importance when measuring success for this administration in promoting a Cloud First strategy.  Depending upon which pundit/analyst you follow or hear talk you may hear a different list of benefits from Cloud Computing.  Certainly, the list of benefits should be different for public and private sectors and, within public sectors, each agent has its own mission adding even more variance into the list of benefits.  However, this document transcends those variances in a way that allows all agents to participate while limiting overall objections.  Hence, this document, if nothing else, accomplishes a monumental feat of delivering some practical vision while limiting the opportunity for the ideas and concepts to easily be dismissed.

Additionally, this document also serves as a model that even the private sector can follow for adoption of Cloud Computing.  It serves as an example for establishing a solid foundation that includes a business justification, addresses security concerns, provides a decision framework for identifying appropriate services to move to the Cloud, illustrates successful use case examples, and establishes a model for governance.  The latter is a key and often overlooked requirement for developing successful Cloud Computing strategies.  The governance foundation section clearly identifies the role of various departments and agencies with regard to leading direction for Cloud Computing adoption in the U.S. Federal government.  They are defined as follows:

  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will lead and collaborate with Federal, State, and local government agency CIOs, private sector experts, and international bodies to identify and prioritize cloud computing standards and guidance
  • General Service Administration (GSA) will develop government-wide procurement vehicles and develop government-wide and cloud-based application solutions where needed
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will monitor operational security issues related to the cloud
  • Agencies will be responsible for evaluating their sourcing strategies to fully consider cloud computing solutions
  • Federal CIO Council will drive government-wide adoption of cloud, identify next-generation cloud technologies, and share best practices and reusable example analyses and templates
  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will coordinate activities across governance bodies, set overall cloud-related priorities, and provide guidance to agencies
  • All-in-all, this document is a highly-reusable piece of literature that is difficult to find fault with.  I will admit I was expecting this document to be a fluff piece that offered

All-in-all, this document is a highly-reusable piece of literature that is difficult to find fault with.  I will admit I was expecting this document to be a fluff piece that offered lofty goals and praised Cloud Computing simply because it’s “the hot buzzword of the month”, but one must give credit where credit is due; and in this case much credit is due to Vivek and team.  Good on ya!

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