An announcement from Google and more articles about the federal government’s cloud computing initiative (see: Feds go for the Clouds) help reveal the advantages and difficulties of the initiative.
- Google Apps and Government, by Matthew Glotzbach, Director, Product Management, Google Enterprise Official Google Enterprise Blog (September 15, 2009).
- Government Steps Into The Cloud, By Charles Babcock InformationWeek (Sept. 15, 2009)
- Google Plans Private Government Cloud, By Thomas Claburn, InformationWeek(September 16, 2009).
According to Babcock, “Federal CIO Vivek Kundra made it clear Tuesday that curtailing the constant buildout of federal data centers was one of his goals.” The government is investigating ways that “private suppliers of cloud services can be substituted for building more government data centers.”
Babcock reports that Kundra recognizes the security issues:
While there is agreement on the general outline of cloud computing, security in the cloud needs to be better defined and implemented, Kundra said.
…Users who ship data to the cloud will need contractual guarantees that it will be maintained with the same level of security as it was in-house, but neither vendors nor users are sure yet how such guarantees can be made.
Google’s announcement addresses some of the issues of security and responsibility. Google says that it intends to build a separate “Dedicated Google cloud for government customers in the US.”
“The government cloud will come from Google-owned-and-operated facilities,” said Google Enterprise director of product management Matthew Glotzbach, in a phone interview. “It will be sections of existing facilities. But it will be a fully parallel instance of Google Apps. The difference being we’re working with the government to meet the specific needs of government data regulations.”
…Google’s reticence to allow IT professionals to inspect its data centers as part of their due diligence has been a source of criticism in the past.
So, the emphasis in the government announcements is on cost savings and efficency tempered with an awareness of the need for security and accountability. As I said in an earlier post, it seems that this is probably a step forward for government information technology, but it remains to be seen if it is a step forward for government information.