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Cloud Computing and Open Government

“Advances in computer technology and the Internet have changed the way America works, learns, and communicates. The Internet has become an integral part of America’s economic, political, and social life.”

-President Bill Clinton


For more than twelve years now, VMware has helped organizations of all sizes remove cost and complexity from their IT infrastructures.   After spending the majority of their IT budgets just maintaining their existing infrastructure, these organizations know that the existing approach cannot survive. With this backdrop, more than 190,000 organizations are moving to virtualized infrastructures and enabling a path towards secure private clouds.   This same transition is also underway in the public sector, where it can have an even more direct effect on many of our lives.


The goal of any public sector organization is to provide services and values to its constituents. With this goal in mind, the current United States federal administration is leading the way in the move towards more efficient, flexible and self-service computing. Late last year, the president’s office issued the Open Government Directive with a focus on three basic principles: Transparency, Participation and Collaboration.  The initiative’s premise is that by providing the capability for increased citizen participation, government services will become more relevant to the citizens. In a sense, “the more minds working on a problem, the higher the degree of probability an innovative solution will emerge”.  Websites such as (where agencies can publish data sets) and (a central service offered by the General Service Administration for cloud applications) are fostering new government services devoted to making once-obfuscated information available to the ordinary citizen.  These services require new approaches to public sector IT.


In parallel with these public sector initiatives, IT organizations throughout the private sector are shifting towards a more service-orientated model for delivering their own services.  Just as in the public sector, the “citizens” of the private sector companies demand access to even more data and applications than ever before. To meet these increasing needs, organizations, both public AND private sector, must move to an agile, flexible, secure and dynamic infrastructure capable of meeting the demands of today’s applications as well as enabling the even richer applications and data sets of the future. However, a particularly challenging problem for the public sector is the fiscal reality of flat or decreasing budgets and reduced tax basis in many states and localities.   But all is not lost… 


Governments are achieving results today through the move towards secure private clouds. Starting with virtualization, this computing model takes an evolutionary approach to reaching the cloud end-state. Virtualization protects organizations’ existing investments in hardware and software, but it also sets the stage to leverage hardware and applications from other agency or private secure cloud providers.  This is how the secure private cloud becomes a “hybrid” cloud. The organizations employing this approach realize several benefits along the way:

  • they achieve capital expenditure reductions through server consolidation,

  • they leverage new forms of automation to realize operational expenditure reductions,

  • by removing the restrictive ties between software and hardware, they can provision new servers more quickly than before,

  • both security and availability can benefit from pools of interchangeable compute resources, and

  • they can more elastically “flex” into other datacenters when demand is particularly high.


The path to this new computing model within the public sector has already stated, but there are many additional challenges to be conquered along the way.   The driving force is about bringing better value and services to citizens, which will require a greater degree of access to network capabilities at an affordable economic model.  This will drive changes and improvements to broadband access. Applications must be available to all as well, so focusing on richer, more intuitive application becomes more important than ever. 


In conclusion, governments are under more pressure than ever to provide great services to their constituents, but at a time when financial pressures are as high as they have ever been. Fortunately the arrival of new cloud computing models offers an opportunity to get past these challenges and pave the way for the even more responsive governments of the future.


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