Federal CIO Vivek Kundra has been all about IT reform for the federal government, and he placed big bets that cloud computing is the way to go. He pushed for open government, cloud computing, data center consolidation, rigorous project management, and better customer service.
However, Kundra has announced that he will leave his position in August, after a two-and-a-half-year stint. This move has many people asking if the government's move to cloud computing will come to a halt. Living in Washington, D.C., I get a front-row view of the government's use of this technology, and it's a bit like watching five-year-olds play soccer: There is a lot of movement, but not much gets done.
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In many respects, the government first led us to cloud computing, such as through the National Institute of Standards and Technology's attempt to define this cloudy space and well-publicized movements by the government to adopt the cloud, including Fed Ramp. However, the government's cloud computing grade for the last few years has been a D+ at best.
Despite all their efforts and advocacy, Kundra, the General Services Administration (which sets the contracting standards for most agencies), and perhaps even President Barack Obama could not get government agency CIOs off the sidelines when it came to cloud computing. Clearly there were a few attempts to dip toes into the water, and a few internal infrastructure renewal contracts were quickly cloud-washed as "private clouds." However, I don't see any significant movement to the value of cloud computing by the government.
At the heart of the matter is that CIOs have operational responsibilities and only enough budget to get to the end of each year. Thus, playing around with new technologies -- even those that could significantly lower costs in the long run -- did not receive the funding levels required to even access the transformation processes.