One Step to the Cloud, Two Steps Toward Innovation

Wednesday - 6/27/2012, 4:48pm EDT

June 28, 2012

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Cloud computing and innovation are intrinsically linked in the federal government. The idea of agencies moving commodity technology such as email or collaboration to the cloud begets their ability to be more innovative with both commodity and mission critical IT.

The Obama administration has pushed the move to the cloud, and right behind it data center consolidation using technologies such as virtualization, for more than two years. In fact, June was the 18 month anniversary of the 25 point IT reform plan the Office of Management and Budget issued in December 2010. Steven VanRoekel, the federal chief information officer, said recently the cloud-first policy, which focused mainly on moving email systems to public service providers, saved the government $100 million a year. He said in total agencies have moved more than 1 million mail boxes to the cloud. But it's more than just email.

Agencies are on track to move 78 systems to the cloud by the end of the year. And many agencies are using the savings from things such as email to improve mission critical systems.

At DoD, for example, the Pentagon plans to reduce the number of data centers to less than 100 from more than 700. DoD also plans on building a private cloud and use the public could.

Across the government OMB set a goal of consolidating at least 500 data centers by 2015.

At the GPO, cloud is playing a big role in both data center consolidation, but also in how the agency upgrades its network to use innovations such as voice over IP or virtual desktop interface to make mobile computing much easier. Even with all this attention to cloud, there are plenty of questions around how the technology works and even whether cloud computing is right for every agency, in most circumstances. Innovation doesn't have to come from the cloud, and the cloud doesn't always lead to innovation.

Agencies need to figure out their own relationship between the cloud and innovation and develop a clear path for both of them together and separately.

Moderator: Jason Miller - Executive Editor and Reporter with Federal News Radio


David Devries - Deputy DoD Chief Information Officer (DoD CIO) for Information Management, Integration, and Technology
Charles Riddle- Chief Information Officer, U.S. Government Printing Office
Christopher L. Smith - U.S. Federal Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Accenture