Official Cloud Computing Revolution – CIO Vivek Kundra
“The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would steal them away.”
- Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), 40th US President.
(Disclaimer: I realize that I used this quote in an earlier article, but it is so much appropriate for what I am about to say, I just couldn’t help using it again.)
Ronald Reagan was an eloquent orator, and what he said three decades ago is what the general public believes today, as they have been for a long time. In the context of cloud computing, this has special significance given the newness of the technology.
Popular belief suggests that government officials are loath to accept, far less adopt, the emergence of anything that upsets the status quo. Reagan would have been quite surprised if he had met Chief
Information Officer (CIO) of the United States of America (incidentally, the first ever) Vivek Kundra. The CIO is the administrator of the Office of Electronic Government, which in turn is part of the Office of Management and Budget, responsible for budgetary allocations and tracking federal spending.
Kundra is quite the antithesis of the popular image of the middle-aged, unwavering, and often, incompetent, government official. He is one of the bright young stars chosen by the young President Obama to be part of his administration, and the government, and consequently the country, is already seeing the tangible benefits.
Far from being resistant to change, Kundra is one of the strongest proponents of cloud computing, making memorable endorsements like, “Just like water from the tap in your kitchen, cloud computing services can be turned on or off quickly as needed. Like at the water company, there is a team of dedicated professionals making sure the service provided is safe, secure and available on a 24/7 basis. When the tap isn’t on, not only are you saving water, but you aren’t paying for resources you don’t currently need.”
Since Kundra is a young man of 36, he is well-placed to understand the advantages, and the limitations, of a new technology like cloud computing (See: A History of Cloud Computing).
And the results are showing. Last week, at a Senate subcommittee panel hearing, Kundra testified that the canceling of four IT projects and restructuring of 11 others has saved about $3 billion in less than five months. He attributed the cost savings to the 25-point IT reform plan which requires federal managers to show significant gains within their agencies within a six month window, the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative and the “cloud first” policy.
According to this policy, government agencies have been asked to consider a cloud computing option when they planned to launch a new IT project, and also required to identify three systems they would like to move to the cloud.
One of the major cancellations was the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIMHRS), which Kundra’s office recommended dropping recently after 12 years of development and nearly $1 billion in funding. Kundra testified that despite that massive investment, the project simply was outpaced by private sector technology too many times to be useful.
Kundra was backed up in his cloud computing push by the General Services Administration’s Associate Administrator David McClure who testified that the department’s recent move to the cloud will save it $1.7 billion annually. Thus, Kundra seems to have taken the cost-cutting implications of cloud computing to heart (See: How Cloud Computing Can Save You Money).
Kundra’s support for cloud computing is a big shot in the arm for the industry, since the government is one of the biggest consumers of technology products and services out there. Hence, it can definitely define the course of future development in this field, which, going by recent developments, seems to be “soaring”.
By Sourya Biswas