Fed Clarifies Cloud Computing Plans

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August 12, 2009
Written by Ameed Taylor

Up until the Obama administrations appointment of Vivek Kundra as the Federal CIO, the Fed had not presented a comprehensive vision of its Cloud Computing plans. This changes with the General Services Administration (GSA) recently released RFQ (Request for Quotation) for Cloud Computing Services.

The GSA RFQ focuses on Infrastructure as a Service with an emphasis on:

Cloud Storage Services
Virtual Machines
Cloud Web Hosting

The RFQ also includes a high level view of the Federal Cloud Computing Framework; found in the Draft National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Working Definition of Cloud Computing.

Fed Cloud Computing Framework

The RFQ and framework help Cloud Computing Service Providers understand the cloud computing vision that the Fed has adopted in addition to various interoperability, bandwidth and security standards that the Fed mandates. The Framework also outlines the Feds high level categorization of Software as a Service Applications and Platform as A Service.This helps the fledgling cloud computing industry in 3 ways.

First off, it helps put to rest some of the misgivings and fears that private industry and sceptics have held concerning the adoption of cloud computing. Once the Federal government adopts certain cloud computing standards in its own framework, it is safe to say that sceptics and holdouts in private industry will soon come around and adopt these standards as well.

Secondly, this RFQ will give the service providers who are chosen to provide cloud computing services to the GSA, real world use cases and examples that can be put to use in selling cloud services to private industry.

Finally, the detailed cloud computing requirements that the GSA outlines in the document give both established and startup cloud service providers a blueprint for services and standards that they should adopt in the future.

The scope of this initial RFQ may limit the chosen service providers to larger cloud providers who can provide the full breadth of services, but the trickle down effect of the Fed RFQ will surely help smaller Cloud Service providers at the state, local and private industry level.

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