What is GovCloud?

Sankaran Ganapathi

Terminal technicians take questions about GovCloud and its impact on cloud computing.

What is GovCloud?

GovCloud is an initiative by the US Government to move the IT networks of governmental agencies to the cloud. According to GovCloud.com, it strives to:

help federal organizations learn about, try and securely adopt cloud computing technologies. Cloud computing provides new capabilities, efficiencies and substantial cost savings... Our mission is to facilitate implementations that adhere to rapidly evolving cloud computing standards, with a heavy focus on interoperability, portability and security.

We have been eagerly following GovCloud since former Federal CIO Vivek Kundra announced the Cloud First initiative, requiring all federal agencies to examine cloud computing options before making any new IT investments. Essentially, there are three motives behind this campaign.

  1. It’s all about the money. From the US Government’s perspective, the biggest advantage of cloud computing is cost reduction. The cloud reduces excess by leveraging shared IT resources, ensuring agencies only pay for the IT resources that they need and use.
  2. Cloud resources are easily scalable. Agencies can add or remove IT resources on-demand to quickly meet unplanned growth or budget restrictions.
  3. Built for speed and comfort. GovCloud provides immense processing power with relative ease, utilizing IT resources which are currently too expensive for governmental organizations to implement on-site.

In short, that means GovCloud promises to increase both IT efficiency and agility for governmental organizations while saving taxpayers money in the process.

Why is GovCloud important to the cloud movement?

GovCloud is a turning point in the evolution of cloud computing. If the US government fully embraces cloud-based IT networks, it's likely that state and local governments will follow. Additionally, various GovCloud developers, including industry leaders like Amazon, are already entertaining the opportunity of adding foreign clients. The government sector on a global scale represents an enormous market (and motive) that would solidify cloud computing as an IT mainstay for the foreseeable future.

Security is currently the largest drawback of GovCloud and cloud computing in general. By allowing sensitive governmental data to be centralized on shared IT resources, there is a higher risk of data being compromised. GovCloud providers are aggressively addressing this issue, and will test cloud computing in ways that may not have been intended.

It's an exciting time for cloud computing. GovCloud demands a new degree of security, which is bound to raise the bar for acceptable standards. Corporate and personal users want the very best available, and we think that they will get it. Cloud computing was discovered by most people in 2011, but 2012 will be the year that they will remember. Lots of big things are about to happen.