Vivek Kundra's Successor as Federal CIO Plans to Continue 'Cloud First Policy'

| Topic : Cloud Computing/SaaS

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As the U.S. economy continues to struggle and elected officials in Washington look for ways to lower the national deficit, new technologies are proving helpful in reducing government spending. IT technologies and innovations, such as cloud computing, are of particular interest to the federal government, as they come with promises of cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

According to Government Health IT, the newly-appointed federal chief information officer, Steven VanRoekel, recently asserted his intentions to continue the 'Cloud First Policy' of his predecessor, Vivek Kundra. VanRoekel expressed his excitement for his new position, as well as his confidence in Kundra's IT initiatives.

In late 2010, Kundra created a 25-Point Plan to Reform Federal Health IT, which included the Cloud First Policy, in an effort to reduce government IT expenditure and improve the efficacy of existing systems. According to an article published this past March in Cloud Computing Journal, Kundra's plan aims to focus 25 percent of the $80 billion federal IT budget on cloud computing initiatives, while expecting to see identifiable progress within the first 18 months.

The policy, Government Health IT reports, was well received among experts, and looked at as a keen and impressive move in the right direction. "Vivek Kundra did a great job of laying out the vision for IT modernization - the vision is bold," founder of a government IT network provider, Steve O'Keefe, asserted. "We understand that Steven VanRoekel plans to stay the course on cloud, data center consolidation, cyber security, transparency and mobility initiatives."

According to the source, experts in the field, as well as federal IT professionals, are excited to work with VanRoekel. "Everybody in Federal IT is looking forward to collaborating with Mr. VanRoekel to map the operational path forward to achieve these lofty and noble goals," stated O'Keefe. "Public-private collaboration will be critical to success. We need to prioritize and put in place resources to make the vision a reality."

Many entities of both state and federal governments have begun to transition to the cloud. For example, The Associated Press recently reported that Wyoming announced it successfully converted the entire IT operation of its executive branch to cloud services, making it the first U.S. state to make such a move. Wyoming projects annual savings of around $1 million, the AP added.

Various other federal and major private entities have been using cloud services to reduce expenditure. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently stated it had been using the cloud for much of its IT needs over the past three years, noting the success of the change with regard to cost management, organization and security.

VanRoekel, a former executive at Microsoft, expressed his determination to improve the general practices of Washington and private organizations, Government Health IT reports. "We're trying to make sure that the pace of innovation in the private sector can be applied to the model that is government," VanRoekel stated in a New York Times interview.

The website notes VanRoekel's example of the new fcc.gov being a strong precedent for other branches to follow. "We're taking one from the online entrepreneur's handbook, releasing products quickly and often, and letting the many eyes of the web drive the continuous improvement we hope fcc.gov will come to embody," VanRoekel stated. "Built in the cloud, and developed with open source software, the new fcc.gov lowers barriers to future development as part of a long-term IT cost-cutting strategy."

VanRoekel's strategy is in line with the projections of industry experts. According to the International Data Corporation, the cloud industry is supposed to grow from 600,000 units in 2010, to 1.3 million by 2014.  

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