A briefing for Congressional staffers and industry on federal cloud computing adoption held Wednesday on Capitol Hill served as an update on the results Obama Administration's "Cloud First" information technology policy from an industry point of view.
The panel was convened by the trade group TechAmerica and introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) who co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional High Tech Caucus.
The outlook is positive, but news is mixed. Executives from leading vendors were, naturally, uniformly enthusiastic about the transformational nature of cloud computing, promising cost savings in data centers, energy costs and real estate.
"We believe cloud computing, when effectively implemented can save billions of dollars," said Nick Combs, Federal Chief Technology Officer at EMC. "But the rush to the cloud, driven by the Office of Management and Budget, is putting pressure on federal CIOs to demonstrate momentum, even if it's not effective. Combs has seen, "old technology being labeled as cloud ready," a practice he bemoaned as "cloud-washing."
David Mihalchik, head of Google Apps Federal, sees cloud technology as having the potential to put the federal government on a par with private industry when it comes to technology. Closing this "technology gap" isn't just about saving money and providing streamlined services. It's also about meeting the expectations of the federal work force, which is growing accustomed to high-speed, integrated online services. This kind of flexibility isn't always found in enterprise computing, Mihalchik said, adding, "It's definitely not true in the typical government technology environment."