Hat’s off to Vivek Kundra, U.S. Chief Information Officer. He gets my vote as federal employee of the month, if not the year. He has set a high bar for cloud computing adoption—all with the aim to save taxpayer dollars, make government IT more efficient and better serve American citizens. Is it possible that the federal government is taking the lead and implementing cloud more aggressively and sooner than its private enterprise counterparts?
Whether you are in the public or the private sector, if you haven’t read the "Federal Cloud Computing Strategy" paper, I urge you to do so. Kundra is ahead of most organizations with the creation and publication of a clear, concise cloud computing strategy for federal agencies to read and follow. As I discussed in an earlier blog, according to recent TPI research only five percent of companies have a strategic program for cloud computing.
In my opinion, the federal cloud strategy document could be used as a template for any organization wanting to create a cloud strategy. And with a sound strategy, not only do you have a blueprint to follow, but you also have a visible document to garner the executive commitment needed.
Speaking of executive commitment, Kundra has the full backing of the Obama Administration. The report, published on official White House stationery, clearly articulates the administration’s cloud commitment—‘Cloud First.’ All federal government agencies are required to consider the cloud first when expanding or upgrading IT capabilities. Specifically, Kundra mandates that all federal IT managers must identify three services that can move to the cloud and create a cloud migration plan for each. One of the services has to be implemented fully in the cloud within 12 months and the other two within 18 months.
But Kundra doesn’t make a mandate and walk away. He provides a wealth of tips, tricks and tools of value to any CIO. In a section called Decision Framework for Cloud Migration he outlines a methodology you can use to determine what services are cloud-ready today and what can be considered for later migration. The framework shows IT executives how to choose, provision and then manage services in the cloud. Finally the Fed’s CIO provides a number of case studies illustrating how these Federal agencies successfully migrated toward cloud services using the decision framework. (By the way, one of the case studies features an IAAS solution deployed by the The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).) There is also a great appendix listing resources helpful to any CIO.
But, what I found most compelling is the federal government’s philosophy regarding the changing role of the CIO. ‘Cloud First’s’ real lasting value might be in its greater objective to implement a massive mind shift in how the Federal government views IT. It’s very similar to our philosophy that says today’s CIO’s must shift from being service providers to becoming service brokers. (See Christian Verstrate’s post: The CIO as the Strategic Service Broker.)
To quote from the report, “Organizations that previously thought of IT as an investment in locally owned and operated applications, servers, and networks will now need to think of IT in terms of services, commoditized computing resources, agile capacity provisioning tools, and their enabling effect for American citizens. This new way of thinking will have a broad impact across the entire IT service lifecycle – from capability inception through delivery and operations.”
But the big takeaway here--start drafting your cloud strategy now. If your competition has a strategy and you don’t, you’ve given them a competitive advantage. According to new HP research, senior executives believe that 18 percent of their IT delivery will be via the public cloud and 28 percent by private cloud by 2015. So, take a page from the federal government program and start thinking now about what services make sense to move to the cloud and begin to craft your own strategy, before circumstances or the competition force you to make a decision.