The feds are putting your tax dollars to work in the cloud

Cloud providers should copy the National Science Foundation's efforts to enable experimentation with cloud architectures, apps

The National Science Foundation has announced two $10 million projects to set up cloud computing test beds -- Chameleon and CloudLab -- that will support experimentation with new cloud architectures and cloud applications.

Chameleon and CloudLab will be available for free to researchers. I suspect that many will take advantages of these freebies, perhaps more than the NSF anticipates.

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As you may recall, NIST was the government organization that defined cloud computing, including private, public, and hybrid clouds, as well as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. It's not that strange that the NSF would provide test beds for research purposes and allow researchers to learn more about what the cloud can and can't do.

The $10 million spent on these projects is a drop in the bucket in the bigger scheme of things, but it could spin out to billions of dollars in new technology value when all is said and done.

I suspect (and hope) that the larger public cloud providers will follow up with their own versions of these test beds. Indeed, most have programs for qualified organizations that provide cloud resources for free, or at a greatly reduced price. I would like to see those programs expanded 10- to 20-fold to drive more innovation on their cloud platforms.

Although many people use the government as a punchline for jokes about inefficiency, this is an instance where tax dollars really provide direct value. I hope programs like these will greatly expand in the next few years as cloud computing becomes more important as a platform for innovative technologies.

Both the private sector and government have roles to play, and it's important for them to realize that the future capabilities of cloud computing will be based on sound research, which test beds help provide. The NSF projects are a step in the right direction.

This article, "The feds are putting your tax dollars to work in the cloud," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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