Feds take cloud-first approach to IT

Obama administration aims to cut costs by embracing the cloud in place of in-house, proprietary technology

It's a good thing not all elected officials are clueless about technology. In an effort to reduce waste and streamline IT projects, the White House has pledged to embrace flexible cloud computing in favor of traditional in-house tech deployments.

Starting in 2012, federal agencies are being told to default to cloud-based solutions "whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists," according to the Washington Post.

"Government agencies too often rely on proprietary, custom IT solutions. We need to fundamentally shift this mindset from building custom systems to adopting lighter technologies and shared solutions," said Jeffery Zients, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at a tech conference last month in McLean, Va., according to Internet.com.

"With the default policy towards cloud, what that really moves is behavior toward where agencies are going to provision IT rather than build wherever possible, especially when it comes to commodity IT," said federal CIO Vivek Kundra at the event.

The White House plans to launches an array of initiatives over the next six months, according to the Washington Post, "including pilot efforts to give agencies more flexibility in how they budget for programs." The Post also reports, "In addition, the administration wants to reconstitute oversight panels known as investment review boards and establish a career path for program managers."

Moreover, the White House has launched an online portal for commercial vendors to show off their cloud-based technologies, called Apps.gov.

The cloud strategy fits neatly into the Obama administration's overall plan to insititute significant changes to the government's IT cycle, from budgeting to procurement to management. Among other tactics, the feds have deployed an online dashboard to track spending and the progress of IT projects government-wide. The goal is to pinpoint projects that need to be tweaked or terminated.

The aforementioned initiatives could help the government achieve its goal of reducing its current count of 2,100 data centers by 40 percent come 2015.

This article, "Feds take cloud-first approach to IT," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.

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