How Cloud Became Integral to Agency Strategy

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On March 12, Nextgov will host an event to discuss where cloud technology is going in the government space.

From a financial perspective, the Obama administration’s proposed fiscal 2015 budget estimates that about 8.5 percent of the $86 billion federal IT budget – or $7.3 billion – will be spent on provisioned services like cloud computing.

Those numbers are massive, considering the administration penned a broad cloud strategy four years ago.

But the dollar figure probably doesn’t do justice to how cloud computing has affected the strategic thinking behind agency walls. Whether it’s the IT folks keeping backend systems operational, the visionary chief information officers or the teams charged with carrying out tech programs, cloud is a  dominant topic of conversation.

At the Federal Communications Commission, for example, cloud plays a major role in all three phases of its IT Transformation Plan. In its first phase, FCC has begun the process of leveraging cloud with use cases and cost savings realized. Phases II and III will leverage cloud even more in the coming years, as old systems phase out and new systems evolve.

Elsewhere across government, agencies look at cloud as an enabler for other technologies and services. The General Services Administration, in particular, designed Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program approval as the standards stamp that will take cloud from niche platform to governmentwide foundation.

When the administration published its cloud strategy four years ago, FedRAMP was just one year past conception. and, in fact, it took two years for the organization to issue its first approval. The program seems to have taken its own “do once, use many times’ motto to heart, though, and exploded in recent months.

Today, 32 cloud solutions are FedRAMP compliant. The implications of those approvals are significant for the procurement of everything from email and website hosting to business and mission-critical applications, data storage and myriad as-a-service offerings.

The cloud has opened some of the government’s large public data stores at agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, driving innovation back through the private sector. It’s also a major tool in the arsenal of 18F, the government’s human answer to the digital question: How can technology improve government and better serve its customers?

As cloud continues to move out of its fragile early stage of high investment, low production and into maturity, the procurement explosion reflected in the administration’s FY15 budget can only be expected to magnify.

On March 12, Nextgov will host an event to discuss where cloud technology is going in the government space, with Kathy Conrad, deputy associate administrator at GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies; John Skudlarek, deputy chief information officer at FCC, and many more experts. For more information about the event, register here.

Patrick Boynton contributed to this report.

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