Cloud security fears exaggerated, says federal CIO

Says fear 'amplified' because it 'preserves the status quo'

1 2 Page 2
Page 2 of 2

One of the reasons Kundra has been advocating cloud adoption is because it increases competition, something Spires sees as well. "I think when the government locks itself into one or just a couple of vendors for long periods of time we end up getting very inefficient services," Spires said.

The U.S. Deptartment of Agriculture (USDA) is about two months away from completing its move of 120,000 users to a Microsoft hosted email and collaboration platform. The USDA had been running 27 separate email systems and expects to save $6 million annually with this change.

By moving from in-house systems to a cloud provider for its email, Chris Smith, the USDA's CIO, said the department wasn't locking itself in to Microsoft's cloud. In developing its acquisition, the department ensured that data portability was built into it, he said.

Federal agencies that are considering public cloud, such as the DHS, are using the U.S. General Services Agency's infrastructure as a service contract to compare vendors..

The pre-approved list of about a dozen vendors includes Amazon, Microsoft, and Verizon and others that meet U.S. government requirements. In a number of cases, these cloud providers have submitted joint offerings with government-specific contractors.

The government's definition of pubic cloud varies.

Although agencies may be willing to use some commercially available cloud services for public data, providers are also creating government-specific cloud services that meet stringent federal security requirements. These secure offerings will be similar to those followed by private firms that now provide data center services to agencies, which include physically separate data centers.

Kundra, who is leaving his post next month, also reiterated his criticism that government contracts are being won by vendors who understand the procurement process "better than the technology they are deploying."

He has said that this has led to something akin to an "IT cartel" in the federal government.

To help open the government to smaller IT business, Kundra cited a number of steps, including, a platform that allows small companies to display their products. "It gave a small start-up the same chance to engage with the federal government that a tech titan has," he said.

The government has been bringing in venture-backed firms to present before government CIOs as well, said Kundra. The U.S. also has a rule to pull funding from any IT project that isn't delivering value six months from implementation, Kundra said.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at  @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

1 2 Page 2
Page 2 of 2
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon