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Agile Computing: Article

Shades of the Blitz! Cloud Wars Loom Over Washington

The unquenchable, super-ambitious Google is gonna try taking over the US government

For its next trick, the unquenchable, super-ambitious Google is gonna try taking over the US government.

On Tuesday, after the first federal CIO Vivek Kundra unveiled Apps.gov, a thinly populated, GSA-managed, almost completely salesforce.com- and Google-dominated web store where federal agencies are supposed to go to get GSA-sanctioned cloud applications and “coming soon” infrastructure services as well as free software like YouTube, Facebook and MySpace, Google said that by next year it would have a government-specific version of Google Apps that meet security requirements and complies with the Federal Information security Management Act (FISMA) and such.

It’s also working on a government cloud, set for debut in 2010, that promises to keep the data inside the United States of America operated by people with security clearances.

Then there’s Google for the Public Sector, the company’s own shop for tools and advice on exploiting Google Earth, Google Maps and YouTube.

The company is currently working on FISMA certification for Google Apps and is reportedly close; its government data centers will be next. The validation could really rev its engines.

According to a blog by Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, GSA CIO Casey Coleman figures 45% of federal computing could go to the cloud, which means that Amazon and Microsoft and IBM, at least, which didn’t seem to make the Apps.gov cut, are gonna want a piece of this action.

You can count on it there are going to be cloud wars over Washington.

Google’s widgetry will be targeted at all levels of government: federal, state and local so they’ll have to try to standardize on stuff like background checks.

So far Google doesn’t have any takers, though it’s supposed to be talking to government folk, and pricing is still up in the air, or at least hasn’t been discussed publicly, and issues like privacy and security haven’t really been completely worked out.

However, the cloud-bewitched Obama administration has mandated that agencies adopt certain cloud services by 2011 in an effort to save money. According to Kundra, “We spend over $77 billion on information technology. We serve over 300 million customers across the country with our 10,000 systems. But what we’ve been doing is building data center after data center and frankly it has driven the costs across the board and has led to a doubling of energy consumption.”

The cloud, as opposed to the current fashion of agencies having their own systems, in some cases many systems, is supposed to make government procurement more efficient and cheaper. It’s unclear what agencies that already have software-as-a-service system are supposed to do.

The White House is supposed to seek funding for pilot cloud projects in next year’s budget that define what existing workloads can be offloaded and what new services can be built on the cloud. The programs are expected to see lightweight applications rolled out to users.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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