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White House will spend $20bn on cloud computing in 2012 says White House CIO

15 February 2011

Vivek Kundra, chief information officer of the White House, told the audience at the Cloud Security Alliance Summit in San Francisco this morning that the White House will be spending $20bn on cloud security according to the new 2012 budget.

“$20bn of the $80bn total IT spending can be moved to the cloud”, Kundra announced, with the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury, and the Department of Defense having the most potential for spending in the cloud.

“We have already committed to shutting down 800 data centers by 2015”, he said, expressing his disapproval that whilst the private sector has been reducing its number of data centers, the public sector has seen an increase from 432 to 2094 data centers in the last decade.

Kundra expressed his disappointment that “sufficient time has not been spent making sure we serve the American people properly”. This is, in part, he suggested, due to the government insisting on “continuing to build on-premise custom software, rather than tapping into the innovative spirit of vendors and companies [in the information security industry]. This behavior just feeds into a risk-adverse culture”, he said.

To the contrary, Kundra believes the government needs to “tap into the innovation that is happening in the Silicon Valley and across the US”.

Some of the government departments which have been early adopters of cloud computing – including HHS, GSA, DoD, DoA – have already reaped time and money savings from the move, Kundra shared.

He did however advise that the following need to be considered when catalyzing cloud adoption:

  • Security: Centralizing certification and accreditation for cloud solutions; prioritizing security controls to counter the most serious threats; using near real-time security dashboards to facilitate continuous monitoring; integrating identity management.
  • Standards: Currently working with NIST to set up bodies to look at standards, which is important for interoperability, portability and security; proposing and testing interim standard; publishing cloud computing business and technical user cases.
  • Procurement: Putting in place government wide enterprise procurement; working with state and local governments to leverage centralized procurements. “In the next few weeks we are pushing out procurement in collaboration in the cloud to maximize strategic sourcing to buy cloud solutions, and eliminate redundant and inefficient vendor certifications”.
  • Governance: Setting policy and enforcing budget priorities; aligning regulatory and legal frameworks; driving government-wide adoption of cloud computing; collaborating with international entities.

“A lot of [government] agencies are interested in finding out what cloud solutions are available. People are wondering why they have far better technology at home that they do in their government department at work. Coming into work is like going back in time”, he said. “There is a huge technology gap”.

In conclusion, Kundra advised the audience that the “industry needs to introduce Darwinian pressure in Washington” to pay attention to what the industry has to offer. “This is a $20bn opportunity”, he said.

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Cloud Computing  •  Public Sector


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