CIO Council report on cloud sets future vision

Wednesday - 5/26/2010, 3:59pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

Cloud computing is the Office of Management and Budget's signature technology imperative. But the long term vision of how the government will use the utility model for storage, computing or processing has been vague.

Federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra has offered a few paths such as data center consolidation or the development of Apps.gov, but a broad strategy has been missing.

Kundra and the CIO Council released a "where are we now" report on cloud computing that can now serve as that future roadmap.

"This report provides information on our approach to leverage cloud computing to help close the government's technology gap," the council states in the report.

The report highlights the current and future activities across the government, including new guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, 30 use cases from federal, state and local governments and budget guidance to agencies for future planning to use cloud computing.

"These case studies reflect the growing movement across the public sector to leverage cloud computing technologies," the report states. "As we move to the cloud, we must be vigilant in our efforts to ensure that the standards are in place for a cloud computing environment that provides for security of government information, protects the privacy of our citizens, and safeguards our national security interests."

The report states that NIST is developing a set of special publications around cloud computing, including documents that covers the key considerations, interoperability, portability and security.

NIST also is developing guidance around server and desktop virtualization that will include security concerns and recommendations to mitigate those risks.

The council also highlights the Standards Acceleration to Jumpstart Adoption of Cloud Computing (SAJACC) working group.

"The SAJAAC strategy and approach is to accelerate the development of standards and to increase the level of confidence in cloud computing adoption during the interim period before cloud computing standards are formalized," the council states. "SAJACC will provide information about interim specifications and the extent that they support key cloud computing requirements through a NIST hosted SAJACC portal."

The working group also will provide a public online repository of cloud computing use cases, documented cloud system interfaces, pointers to cloud system reference implementations, and test results showing the extent to which different interfaces can support individual use cases. The project is in the process of formulating an initial set of draft use cases and vetting these with cloud computing stakeholders in academia, government, and industry.

The use cases in the report cover everything from the Defense Information Systems Agency's Forge.mil platform to the General Services Administration moving USA.gov to a hosting platform in the cloud to the recent Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board's decision to host Recovery.gov in the cloud.

Read more about cloud computing in the federal space at the Fed Cloud Blog.

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