Cloud computing, virtualization, open source poised for big gains

Analyst firm identifies five technologies that will see huge growth in U.S. government adoption, largely driven by efforts to contain costs

ive technologies, including the trendy cloud computing and old workhorse open-source software, will see huge adoption increases in the U.S. government over the next five years, largely driven by efforts to contain costs, according to an analyst firm.

In addition to cloud computing and open-source software, other technologies that will be hot in the U.S. government through 2014 include virtualization, service-oriented architecture, and geospatial technologies, said Input, an analysis and consulting firm focused on government contracting.

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Input expects the U.S. government's technology spending to grow at about 3.5 percent a year from 2009 to 2014, said Deniece Peterson, manager of marketing analysis at Input.

However, cloud computing spending is expected to grow by 27 percent a year, from $370 million in 2009 to $1.2 billion in 2014, Input said.

Virtualization spending will grow by 12 percent a year, from $800 million to $1.4 billion, and open-source software will grow by 8 percent a year, from $290 million to $430 million, Input said.

The federal service-oriented architecture market will increase from $330 million to $660 million, an annual growth rate of 17 percent, and geospatial technology will increase from $860 million to $1.4 billion, an annual increase of 8 percent, Input projected.

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is pushing cloud computing as a way to cut spending on new hardware and software and to reduce energy costs. That focus on cloud computing, and on cost cutting, will drive adoption in the other technologies on Input's list, Peterson said.

With Obama's administration pushing cloud computing, "something is going to happen," she said. "The question is, to what degree?"

The push for virtualization will be driven by an emphasis on energy efficiency and lowering hardware costs, Peterson said. And agencies will look to streamline their infrastructure using virtualization technologies as a way to take advantage of the benefits offered by cloud computing, she added.

While many U.S. agencies have been using open-source software for years, the new emphasis on tightening budgets will make open-source packages more popular, Peterson predicted. In addition, many agencies will look for increased ways to customize their software using open-source packages, and some agencies will use open-source software to create private, or hybrid, clouds using open source, she said.

Agencies want the ability to "have more control over the software code," Peterson said.

Service-oriented architecture will also be driven by the focus on cloud computing, with a greater emphasis at agencies on what services best fit in the cloud, Peterson said.

Obama's focus on government transparency and accountability will largely drive adoption of geospatial technologies, Peterson said. With government agencies looking for ways to better inform the public, maps seem like a good way to track government projects and spending, she said.

"Geospatial systems are the easiest way for the administration to share that data with you and me," she said.

Input's report on emerging government technologies is based on surveys with federal and IT industry professionals. Nearly half of those surveyed said the five technologies listed in the report will have a major impact their technology environments, despite concerns over security and up-front costs, Input said.

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