'Government cloud' coming from Google next year

The company plans to provide cloud computing services to U.S. government agencies, though it has not officially signed up any customers yet

Google will offer cloud-computing services designed specifically for U.S. government agencies starting next year, the company announced Tuesday at NASA Ames Research Center.

The services will give government agencies a way to purchase services, such as Google Apps, by ensuring that they meet regulatory requirements, said Matthew Glotzbach, director of product management with Google enterprise.

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Google is now in talks with several government agencies about the services but has yet to sign up a customer, Glotzbach said, speaking with reporters at a federal government cloud-computing event. The services will be hosted in Google's existing datacenters, but on systems that are compliant with government regulations.

For example, the government cloud service will ensure that data remains in the U.S. and will be operated by technicians with appropriate government security clearances, he said.

Google has been working on achieving the U.S. government's FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) certification, required of government IT contractors. The company will submit all the required documentation for this certification by year's end and hopes to be able to offer FISMA-certified Google Apps next year, Glotzbach said.

The federal government is slowly adopting cloud computing services as a way to cut costs and make their systems run more efficiently. Vendors such as Google and virtualization provider VMware see this as a major new opportunity.

"The U.S. government is probably the largest enterprise I know of," said Google cofounder Sergey Brin.

Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra also unveiled the government's new online storefront, called Apps.gov, at the event. The site is the first stage in the government's move toward cloud computing, he said.

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