It makes absolute sense to those of us that are outside looking inward. Instead of our tax dollars going towards a myriad of independent server systems and data management that even one single agency may have a dozen different instance of, the idea is to surrender these responsibilities to objective third-party cloud-providers. Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and others are all vying for the privilege to service Federal government cloud computing needs. Indeed, it’s already being implemented among agencies with low levels of confidential data. The Treasury Department’s entire website is managed through Amazon’s cloud. The State Department has even decided to utilize cloud technology for some simple services they provide to the American people.
Almost obvious, however, are the security concerns of top-level intelligence and defense sectors of the Federal government. Currently, most sections of the military, as well as the FBI, CIA, and NSA, are skeptical about cloud computing. The idea that their data is stored somewhere not where they control the containment and security is a little much. Considering the level of secrecy it takes to successfully manage day-to-day counter-terrorism investigations and other responsibilities of our defense and intelligence agencies, it’s clear that doubts would be cast upon the cloud.
Technologies market research company International Data Corporation has said that cloud computing is growing “five times as fast” as competing technologies industries, but the costs are significantly less. This has everything to do with the ultimate goals of cloud computing: less reliance on paid workers, less costs in maintaining multiple servers and data centers, and more freedom to access more data at faster rates. It’s an incredibly cost effective service that former federal chief information officer Kundra estimated could save American taxpayers nearly $3 billion every year.
In the meantime, the Pentagon, as well as other gears of the government with highly classified research, programs, and data, continue to try and accomplish the call to the cloud without compromising their security. So be it, and, in fact, this all seems to be very familiar; it was the U.S. Government and specifically military research that enabled the Internet to become a reality in the first place.