The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act directs the DoD (Department of Defense) to transition from private clouds controlled by the DoD to public, commercial clouds. The idea is that commercial clouds can provide better service at a lower cost to the taxpayers. But critics say that through this law "Congress has now increased costs, delays, and security risks for the DoD."
Having watched this work progress over the last several years, I believe Congress is right on this decision.
[ InfoWorld's Paul Venezia argues why politicans shouldn't do tech policy. | Get the no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in InfoWorld editors' 21-page Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]
The act's language clearly indicates a bias "to cloud computing services generally available within the private sector that provide a better capability at a lower cost with the same or greater degree of security." You can bet this came from the cloud computing lobbyists wandering around the District of Columbia. But as an overall policy, public cloud as the preferred option when all else is equal is correct.
Needless to say, many government IT people are freaking out. The act requires government agencies to fund a migration plan and migrate to commercially available public cloud providers. The bad news for taxpayers is that much of the cloud work already completed, such as the DoD private clouds built by DISA, will have to fall by the wayside.
But those private DoD clouds were not the right choice in the first place. In fact, most of the private cloud development at the DoD and other government agencies was a huge waste of taxpayer money. And many of the security issues raised around the use of public cloud computing providers to justify those private-cloud data center buildouts were simply bogus.
I don't agree with the DoD -- or any government agency -- when it asserts that public clouds are always bad and government clouds must always be private. However, forcing CIOs to use public clouds is an inappropropriate one-size-fits-all approach to technology, and that never works. Government CIOs should be able to select the right technology for the job, whether private or public clouds -- or even no clouds.