The Obama administration has made “Cloud First” a key part of its strategy for creating a more efficient government IT infrastructure. But simply adopting cloud-based services for new IT acquisitions isn’t going to make the IT management situation any easier.
“We’re hearing from many agencies that the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) will consider cloud as a core element as part of a larger strategy around IT services,” said Kevin Smith, Dell’s marketing director for the Virtual Integrated System architecture, at a recent Ziff Davis Enterprise eSeminar on cloud in the government. “But there has been some criticism, from those who feel that agencies should continue to create open, manageable and uniform infrastructures before they start shifting to cloud platforms.”
As I’ve mentioned here previously, the federal government has been pretty aggressive about creating open cloud standards. The Federal CIO Council’s FedRAMP initiative and the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s SAJACC efforts have laid the groundwork for security and interoperability standards for cloud services, and NASA’s contributions to the OpenStack initiative to create an open-source cloud infrastructure have done a lot to create an open implementation of cloud computing that others can build on. But all the interoperability in the world doesn’t help get the government’s application infrastructure out of its sprawling population of data centers and into a shared cloud environment.
Federal IT initiatives will not be well-served by simply buying software-as-a-service, or platform-as-a-service, or infrastructure-as-a-service from an approved Apps.gov provider and then throwing virtual servers into the cloud. Adding externally hosted cloud resources to the management stack for federal IT managers who are trying to consolidate their internal applications in accordance with OMB’s data center goals just creates another degree of complexity in the process, and another set of processes and management tools that need to be mastered by IT staff.
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