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Adopting cloud services could save the federal government an additional $10 billion as they consolidate resources, remove infrastructure demands, share processing, and reduce workloads, according to its own estimates.

With federal IT spending roughly 73 cents of each IT dollar on legacy systems, the cloud represents not only a necessary path forward but a way for federal agencies to adopt the latest technologies while limiting their purchases and infrastructure replacement needs.

Cloud isn’t new to the federal government, and there are a few major initiatives that deserve a deeper dive, especially when we consider how federal IT has shaped some of the cloud that you and I use.

The Debt We Owe NASA

Back in 2012, NASA was facing budget cuts and sequestration concerns but put its stock into OpenStack – you might recognize the name because just a year later that was the platform that IBM, Cisco, Dell, HP, Red Hat, and more base platforms on or support.

NASA launched its Nebula project with the goal of collecting and collating satellite and other data from around the globe into a single repository. The agency needed to do this at a large scale and have simple governance to make sure data remained usable.

NASA took an open approach to the development and essentially developed one of the most popular cloud management platforms, and then opened it up to everyone from the public and federal agencies to private companies.

The agency took its mission of “exploring the solar system for the benefit of mankind” to the cloud and developed a platform that was scalable, secure, flexible and fast. While it didn’t make money off of the venture, the open nature of OpenStack means the agency has been able to utilize outside upgrades and improvements ever since.

Procurement in the Cloud

The Interior Department has put up to $10 billion into a fund to help it move all of its IT operations to the cloud. The DOI is working with 10 major contractors, from IBM to Verizon, to develop cloud tools for all of its operations.

Work from the DOI also is creating contracts that can be used by other agencies to help them acquire pre-defined services that have been proven successful and secure. Part of that work is its DOI Foundation Cloud Hosting Service that’s able to generate orders on behalf of other agencies, making it both an infrastructure provider and essentially a cloud service middleman for defense and civilian operations.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

The National Information Technology Center, part of the USDA, took the DOI’s work one step further by working with tech companies to develop a platform that moved data centers, secure applications, processing, and analytics to the cloud.

The NITC’s secure app and data center hosting is not only available to every aspect of its USDA parent but also to all other federal agencies. So far, the initiative has been able to condense physical infrastructure, reduce costs for migrating systems, and improve the delivery of IaaS services.

Perhaps the best news is that NITC has been able to save time and money while maintaining a higher level of security requirements than currently mandated under other cross-agency paradigms.

Cloud Priorities

Most of the advancements that have taken place are due to the General Services Administration and its work to establish the FedRAMP program. FedRAMP was created to encourage other agencies to use cloud computing and helped them find approved service providers.

The GSA put its own weight behind the initiative in 2010 when it began a process that ultimately moved some 17,000 employees to Google Apps for Government. This migration made the GSA the first federal agency to push its email and collaboration services solely to the cloud.

The GSA’s work has helped to push cloud technologies and infrastructure services to smaller federal agencies and even push down to a building level for cloud-based controls in all new federal properties. Currently, the agency is working on a contract system that will be used to manage and analyze federal contracts via cloud computing.

Everyday Meetings

There is a federal space between procurement and email, and it tends to have everyday touchpoints like meetings.

That’s where Novusolutions is directing our cloud and automation efforts, in order to distribute information to every stakeholder, from employee to concerned citizen. We also are working to create simple, easy-to-use systems that make meetings paperless and provide agendas that keep things on track and on time.

By embracing the cloud, the federal government is taking steps to ensure that our tax dollars are well spent and the American people are better served. Novusolutions will be there too, doing our best to make sure that every meeting goes as smoothly as cloud sharing and automation can make it.