Business, productivity and social media apps on tap
The US government has opened an Apple-like App Store so the public sector agencies can buy Internet-based services from the cloud.
Apps.gov was announced by President Obama’s CIO Vivek Kundra as a ‘one-stop source for cloud services’ and something which should help lower costs and drive innovation in government. The federal government spends over $75 billion annually on IT.
“Procurement processes can be confusing and time-consuming. Security procedures are complex, costly, lengthy and duplicative across agencies,” Kundra explained in an official blog.
He said adoption of cloud computing would allow government agencies to ‘fulfill their missions at lower cost, faster, and ultimately, in a more sustainable manner.’
The service includes business applications, productivity and social media, as well as offering through the GSA’s IT Services cloud-based storage, web hosting, and virtual machines.
As well as speeding operational processes and reducing waste in government IT programmes, the step is seen as one that will ease environmental impacts
Industry commentators said the steps taken by the US government were in the right direction in this regard.
Rackspace’s Head of Products for EMEA, Simon Abrahams commented, “Cloud computing is one of the most widely talked about technologies in the market today, so it comes as no surprise that the increasingly innovative Obama Administration has looked to the cloud for cost savings on its infrastructure and a reduction in CO2 emissions.”
He added, “Obama’s three-part initiative is a positive first step, and also a reminder to organisations that outsourcing cloud applications can help cut costs on infrastructure and reduce environmental impact globally.”
The move is also validation from the very top of the business model adopted by the likes of Salesforce.com and Google.
The search giant has already confirmed in one of its official blogs that it will apply for accreditation under the Federal Information Security Management Act, which defines the security requirements for government platforms.
It intends to create a dedicated Google cloud for government customers in 2010.
In the UK the Government’s CIO John Suffolk is apparently working on similar plans.
He has said he has begun to start thinking about the establishment of a UK onshore, private G-Cloud. “In essence infrastructure as a service, middleware/platforms as a service and software as a service. In relation to Saas I can’t see any reason why we couldn’t establish a Government Application Store (G-AS for want of a better code),” he wrote recently in his blog.
“The Public Sector will own many computer applications. To get full value, these could be moved into the G-AS. I think the Apple App Store is truly innovative and for me creating something similar has attractions of speed, simplicity, innovation, cost effectiveness etc.”
As in the US, all UK government departments are to be encouraged to procure new IT services based on a cloud computing model.