Obama in the Clouds

Obama and cloud computing? Not a likely pair. But from the beginning, the new president’s proposed technology blueprint has had a strong focus on the virtual technology, and it’s starting to take shape.

The plan calls for pilot programs – like trial periods – that will give the government the opportunity to test the technology, work through the security and privacy kinks, develop standards and gather more data before it is widely deployed. Input, a government data specialist, expects cloud computing adoption to come with the pretty price tag of $1.4 billion by 2013.  Do I think it’s worth the expense? Yes.

Cloud computing has several specific benefits for government IT organizations. First, it is highly automated; freeing up internal resources which cuts down costs in manpower and training. Second, it allows users to access information from wherever they are; which will prove useful for ever-travelling government officials.  Finally, it embraces the IT shift; server updates and computing issues are a thing of the past and government organizations will be free to concentrate on innovation. 

However, Steve Lohr from the New York Times recently blogged about McKinsey & Company’s new research that says that cloud computing would be a “money-losing mistake for most large corporations.”  Will Forrest, the McKinsey principal who led the study said “clouds can make a lot of sense for small and medium-sized companies, typically with revenue of $500 million or less.

The government simply doesn’t fit into that bracket.  So is cloud computing worth the government’s $1.4 billion investment?   We’d love to hear what you think.  Do you use cloud computing; what advice would you give the administration before they jump in?

Contributed by Jena Coletti.  Follow her @jmcoletti