Home > Wired Government > Cloud for the government, by the government (with video).

Cloud for the government, by the government (with video).

Launched today, the federal government’s cloud solution – apps.gov – is designed to help government agencies harness the flexibility, scalability and innovation provided by cloud services.  Even if you aren’t a federal agency looking to purchase apps online, the site is worth visiting to understand the approach of the Obama White House to cloud technologies.  The explanatory video illustrating the benefits of cloud computing is brilliant – with a different background theme, it could be mistaken for one of the more instructive episodes of Schoolhouse Rock.  Most importantly, the video clearly spells out how the Obama White House defines cloud technologies while highlighting its benefit for government: scalability (pay as you go), ease of implementation, reliable service with 24/7 support, freed up resources and of course, environmental sustainability.

Plus, apps.gov opens up the market for smaller, innovative companies to market their applications to government clients.  This is significant when you consider that the government currently spends $75 billion annually on IT. Portions of the site have yet to be populated – you cannot yet store data or host proprietary web applications through GSA’s Cloud IT services (but these offerings are coming soon).  What you can do – as a federal or affiliated state agency is purchase applications through existing GSA contractors, including offerings from Google and Salesforce.com.  Also featured – in the site’s specially designated “social media apps” section are links to numerous free applications that are being offered directly by companies like Blip TV, Socrata, and Slide Share.

Also interesting is how well the site works towards the goal of centralizing purchasing and research of IT services across federal agencies.  As federal CIO Vivek Kundra said today, “[I]n these tough economic times, the federal government must buy smarter.”  Centralizing purchases is standard business practice in large corporations and organizations, but amazingly, yet to be adopted by the federal government.  I wish them well in this noble endeavor.  For more, read Kundra’s blog post at whitehouse.gov, which includes some insights on how the White House plans to approach the important and unresolved subject of privacy and security in the cloud.

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