The White House is ordering federal agencies to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing tools in 2018, according to a new report from Trump administration tech officials that lays out a blueprint to overhaul government information technology systems.
All federal agencies within the federal government will be expected to migrate to the cloud when possible, the report said, outlining timelines over the next year for new pilot programs and updated procurement and cybersecurity policies that enable more cloud adoption.
The government will also accelerate the adoption of cloud email and collaboration tools, the report said, and plans to improve and strengthen existing shared services, and provide additional security to shared services for agencies.
“In furtherance of this objective, existing policies and programs will be rapidly and iteratively updated to eliminate barriers to cloud adoption, and agencies will rapidly migrate applicable capabilities to commercial cloud services,” the report said.
The U.S government spends an estimated $80 billion a year on IT. But those investments have become increasingly obsolete because of outdated software and hardware, which the report concludes has resulted in “an unwieldy and out-of-date federal IT infrastructure.” The federal government has long been slow to adopt the latest commercial technologies to cut costs, and cloud computing has become a prime example.
President Donald Trump signed an order in April to overhaul the federal government’s information technology infrastructure.
Likewise, the Obama administration made IT modernization a priority, creating new positions in the White House, like U.S. Chief Information Officer, to address outdated government technology and curb wasteful spending. Cloud computing also became a focus under the last administration, which launched a “Cloud First” initiative to encourage adoption, and put in place the government’s first set of standardized cloud security protocols.
But overall cloud adoption at federal agencies has been slow, while procurement and security questions still abound. At the same time, every major cloud provider — from Amazon to Google to Microsoft to IBM — is jockeying for dominance in the still-evolving federal cloud market that is worth billions of dollars.
The new White House report reflects envisions a modern federal IT architecture where agencies are able to maximize secure use of cloud computing. It instructs agencies to emphasize shifting funds funds or “cut and invest” strategies that reallocate money from obsolete legacy IT systems to modern technologies such as cloud solutions.
Within the next month, federal agencies will have to identify systems that can be moved to the cloud, and the Trump administration will then “prioritize an infusion of technical talent, capital, and updated security policy as needed to enable prioritized cloud migrations.” Pilot programs intended to set new standards across the federal government to “improve the speed, reliability, reusability, and risk acceptance transparency for cloud” services could start as soon as April, according to the report.
“In order to reduce cost, improve operational efficiencies and cybersecurity, the Federal Government must shift toward a consolidated IT model,” the report said. “The Federal Government must embrace the broader use of cloud services while working to develop cloud products that meet Federal cybersecurity standards.”