When President Barack Obama, in his first term, set out to increase the centralization and lower the costs of the federal government’s vast IT infrastructure, he turned to cloud computing. His administration’s “cloud-first” policy motivated federal agencies to choose the cloud over new on-site infrastructures and mandated that they transfer at least three old on-premise systems to a web-based infrastructure. Thus far, government organizations that include the departments of Agriculture and the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the General Services Administration have switched to cloud-based email and business applications. The “cloud-first” policy has saved the government $5.5 billion per year (an amount that could rise to $12 billion/year) and will let the feds close down over 1,200 data centers by 2015.
The President turned to the cloud again to collect and analyze voter data and contact supporters during the 2012 campaign. With cloud-based analytic software, the Obama team could target potential supporters based on variables such as gender, race, location, income, and voting history. Hosting their applications and data in the cloud gave them much more flexibility (more software options) and accessibility (available anywhere in the world) while reducing their costs. Some observers even credit the Obama campaign’s IT infrastructure with “helping to deliver the election.” In contrast, Mitt Romney’s attempts to harness the power of cloud computing to rally his supporters were less successful. His highly-touted, custom-designed get-out-the-vote application suffered from connection and usability problems. Its data center consisted of only a single web server and one application server, which failed to support an estimated 37,000 users throughout the country. The campaign also did not make the software available as a downloadable app, forcing mobile users to log in to the application via their browsers.
Not surprisingly, then, the experts predict that Obama’s administration will continue to embrace cloud computing as a way to cut costs and consolidate the federal IT infrastructure. As one government technology executive commented, according to Nextgov, “The first administration was about setting up the mechanics and infrastructure. Now you have that infrastructure in place and hopefully you’ll be able to really start doing something with it.” Other cloud computing-related issues that IT insiders and analysts expect or want Obama to address in the second term include cybersecurity (defining the mission of the military’s U.S. Cyber Command and coaxing business owners into supporting cybersecurity legislation), healthcare (implementing the state-by-state electronic healthcare exchanges mandated by the ACA), and immigration reform (developing easier paths to citizenship for skilled IT professionals).
The value of cloud computing has nothing to do with partisan affiliation, of course. Anyone that pays taxes and/or utilizes government services benefits from the money-saving and efficiency-raising effects of the “cloud first” policy. In fact, Mitt Romney probably would have adopted as his own, if not accelerated, a policy that has already resulted in a cheaper, smaller, and more effective government.
Among other things that anyone located anywhere on the political spectrum can agree on is the value of the onthenetOffice Private Cloud Solution. onthenetOffice, an all-in-one cloud-based IT infrastructure, comes equipped with virtual desktops, networking, 24×7 technical support, and data storage and backup. Fully scalable, it can be expanded at any time to support any amount of users, data, or processing power. No matter the location of the user—whether in a blue state or a red state—onthenetOffice can be quickly and easily accessed from any web-enabled device.