Article

Fed pushes for cloud standards, but not too hard

Carl Brooks, Senior Technology Writer
WASHINGTON DC - The movement for standards in cloud computing is getting a gentle nudge from a federal government eager to retool the way the U.S. buys IT, according to presenters and attendees at the OMG Standard's in Government & NGO's Workshop in Arlington, VA.

National Institute on Standards and Technology's Peter Mell said Monday that the US needs "minimal" standards to define cloud computing. Mell, senior computer scientist for NIST's Information Technology Laboratory, stressed that he was not speaking in an official capacity even as he discussed his draft definitions for cloud computing.

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"If industry doesn't develop standards, I'm sure the Fed eventually will, through procurement standards or similar de facto ways," he warned. Mell said that agreement on basic standards were needed to clarify what government agencies could adopt and how. "There is no one cloud – how in the world do you choose?" he said.

He said he saw no issues with the U.S. putting "low-sensitivity data" on public cloud services; indeed, data.gov and USAspending.gov are currently hosted on cloud provider Terremark.

There is a strong push from the top down; newly minted Federal CIO Vivek Kundra is pushing hard for cloud computing usage.

Kevin Jackson, VP of Dataline, met with Kundra and spoke of his overriding determination to cut computing costs by using virtualization and public cloud. Dataline provides IT services for the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies, according to Jackson. He said Kundra wanted to change the procurement system to favor new, cheaper technologies and push towards easier collaboration. Federal CIOs, he warned, would be held to task by Kundra if they did not look at cloud computing first.

The U.S. government is on track to spend more than $77 billion dollars on IT in 2010, according to recent reports, mostly in services from EDS and SAP, making it one of the largest consumers of IT in the world.

The conference was lively: many expressed skepticism that conservative government agencies could quickly change their buying habits. The conference discussions will yield a report on how to start standardizing cloud technology to be presented to the National Defense University Cloud Symposia on Wednesday. Fed CIO Kundra will present a keynote at the Symposia, as well as presentations by Google, HP, IBM and others.

Carl Brooks is a Technology Writer for SearchCloudComputing.com. Write to him at cbrooks@techtarget.com. And check out our Troposphere blog.


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