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The four T's of cloud: A public sector perspective

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Over a three-month span earlier this year, I had the opportunity to play a leadership role in the TechAmerica Foundation's Commission on the Leadership Opportunity in U.S. Deployment of the Cloud (CLOUD2). This industry panel, organized at the request of the Obama administration, on July 26 published our titled "Cloud First, Cloud Fast: Recommendations for Innovation, Leadership and Job Creation." Our leadership team recently had the opportunity to share this report with multiple committees on Capitol Hill.

 

This report, specifically encouraged by the Federal CIO and the Department of Commerce, is focused on the future of cloud services in the American economy. Our report establishes a forward-looking roadmap of maturity measures that will enable the United States economy to maintain its leadership position in the cloud services marketplace worldwide.

 

One of the things that inspires me every day is the fact that our industry plays such a key role in the stability and recovery of the American economy. Technology sector leaders are sought out as key political supporters by both the left and the right. Technology sector job creation is one of the few bright indicators in the current landscape. Many view government IT reform as a critical step in achieving increased government productivity and budget control.

 

Our recently-released report issues 14 recommendations across four categories. These categories I like to call the "Four T's Of Cloud":

 

  1. Trust - We recommend participation in international certification frameworks, investment in identity management ecosystems, standardization of national breach law, and further academic cloud research.
  2. Transnational Data Flow - Our commission recognizes the need for digital due process that allows cloud providers and cloud customers to clearly understand their obligations and protections under the law. The report also recommends that the U.S. align with international privacy frameworks, and show leadership by allowing appropriate government workloads to operate in transnational cloud environments.
  3. Transparency - With the cloud market clearly concerned about vendor lock-in and interoperability, the report calls for cloud providers to develop disclosure frameworks around the operational status of their environments, and to offer data portability tools that enable public and private customers to access their data freely.
  4. Transformation - Recognizing that cloud computing is in many ways a business model as opposed to a new technology, government procurement experts on our commission made specific recommendations around federal budgeting, regulations and incentives, which could spur market adoption and maturity. We also call for continued investment in broadband infrastructure and ICT education, to ensure the supply of key materials this industry requires.

 

As we developed these recommendations for maintaining leadership in the cloud market, many members of our CLOUD2 commission drew positive and negative comparisons to other technical markets such as the financial services industry and the Internet protocol backbone. Many look for parallels to these modern technical markets for examples of what works and what doesn't when trying to show leadership in a global market.

 

The primary contrast that jumps out at me is the method for evaluating services. Older, more mature, technical markets tend to be evaluated by simpler criteria. An investment vehicle is given a risk rating and is either profitable or not profitable. An Internet link is given a quality-of-service, and it is either up or down. When evaluating the cloud services market, the criteria for a "successful" offering is far more subjective and diverse. Buyer criteria ranges widely across service plans, computing models, operating systems, application support, provisioning time, automation capabilities, security tools, transparency measures, portability factors - the list goes on and on.

 

These "Four T's of Cloud" and their corresponding recommendations serve to highlight just how complex our cloud services market can be. The cloud market is as challenging to regulate as the Telecommunications Industry or the Financial Services industry, and is further complicated by the rate of technological change inherent in the industry. New software, hardware, and business models can all change the face of our entire industry in a matter of months, making it hard to set any type of long-lasting regulatory policy.

 

These globally aware, progressive recommendations made by the CLOUD2 report are a good set of guidelines against which cloud services can be developed and improved. Here at Savvis, everything we do in our cloud services roadmap will be examined against the Four T's, and evaluated, in part, by how well we are advancing their objectives in the years to come.

 

David Shacochis is vice president, global public sector, at Savvis.

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1 Comments

This is good info. There's a regular stream of news on this topic in the UK (see http://www.cloudpro.co.uk/cloud-essentials/public-cloud/2111/can-governments-g-cloud-initiative-change-public-sector-it-good for example). Would like to see more coverage in the US.

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