The IT force that can't be stopped

Cloud computing is like a force of nature that will continue to grow even if there is a change in the White House in two years, according to two former federal IT leaders.

Cloud computing is like a force of nature that cannot be stopped, even if there is a change in the White House in two years, according to panelists at a cloud computing briefing today at the National Press Building in Washington, D.C.

Like open-source software, cloud computing will grow whether people want it to or not, said Bob Gourley founder of CTO Vision and former chief technology officer of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“You can have a particular administration try to accelerate it a little bit or another try to hold it back, but it is coming,” Gourley said, adding that move to the cloud is being driven by economies of scale, technology development and a changing IT community.


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The widespread use of social networking sites such as Facebook or the use of technologies such as Hadoop -- open-source software developed to solve problems of huge Web-scale properties -- was not caused by a government request for proposal, Gourley said.

“Cloud computing is absolutely here to stay,” said Brand Niemann, director of the Semantic Community and former enterprise architect and data scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency.

A factor  that will contribute to cloud adoption is a younger workforce coming into government already trained to perform its own IT tasks, Niemann said. Plus, the federal IT budget is not sustainable in the current economic climate. “One of the first things to get cut is the IT shop,” he said, noting that it is one of the most expendable departments within an organization.

IT budgets cannot continue to go up along with high failure rates of IT projects. Federal IT departments must dramatically change to survive, Niemann said. The two former federal IT managers were responding to a question by Kevin Jackson, director of cloud services at IT consulting firm NJVC, who as moderator of the event noted that some people wonder whether cloud computing is just a passing fad that will peter out if President Barack Obama is not re-elected.

The Obama administration has stepped up efforts to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing, requiring federal agencies to move three applications to the cloud within 18 months.

Cloud computing provides on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or interaction from the service provider.



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