There are numerous examples of U.S. agencies getting ahead of the technology curve and keeping pace with private sector leaders.
Cloud computing adoption increasingly seems like it is becoming another example of this trend. Many federal agencies have made significant strides in this area, with a wide range of departments taking aggressive action to benefit from cloud technology as soon as possible. The most recent evidence: The Federal Aviation Administration signed a major cloud computing contract, demonstrating a long-term, substantial commitment to cloud solutions. As several industry observers noted, this contract is noteworthy not just on its own merits, but because it will quite possibly lead to even more cloud adoption throughout the public sector.
The FAA heads to the cloud
The FAA's agreement, which is valued at more than $100 million, represents a 10-year contract for cloud services, including migration. As TechCrunch noted, the FAA is embracing a multi-cloud solution, which will incorporate cloud services and environments from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and others. The source noted that over the course of this decade-long agreement, it is very possible that upgrades and add-ons will eventually drive the total value up to over $1 billion.
"Government adoption of cloud computing for mission applications is accelerating rapidly, and we are pleased to help FAA's transition to the cloud," said Teresa Carlson, Amazon Web Service's VP of Worldwide Public Sector, as TechCrunch reported.
TechCrunch noted that it is unknown precisely which IT services the FAA intends to move to cloud environments. However, it is very likely that this effort will cover file hosting services along with a variety of back-office tools.
Writing for CloudTweaks, Brian Brinker further noted that the cloud's flexibility and collaborative potential is particularly appealing for many of the FAA's unique IT requirements.
"When it comes to air safety, speed and coordination are essential and cloud computing makes it easy for teams and people to coordinate over vast distances," Brinker explained.
Brinker went on to claim that it is very likely the FAA's cloud adoption efforts will cut costs for the agency by a significant margin. With cloud solutions in place, the FAA will be able to drastically reduce its spending on hardware purchasing and maintenance. The cloud's inherent scalability offers further opportunities for cost efficiency.
The benefits which Brinker highlighted are, for the most part, not unique to the FAA. Agencies throughout the federal government are increasingly coming to realize that they can expect major cost and performance benefits by embracing cloud services.
According to Brinker, the FAA's move to the cloud will likely pave the way for other government departments to follow suit.
"By consolidating data centers and working with industry leaders, like Amazon and Microsoft, the American government may actually be able to cut costs, all while increasing the quality of services provided," Brinker wrote. "The FAA is making some of the most aggressive moves, right now, but in the future cloud computing should be a big investment for the federal government as a whole."
Of course, in order for agencies to experience these benefits, they need to be very careful and strategic in their cloud adoption efforts. Standards such as FedRAMP are a good starting point in this capacity. Only by working closely with an experienced cloud managed services provider can federal agencies migrate IT to the cloud with maximum confidence and results.