Open Clouds are Key for Sharing a Wealth of Government Data

Not just a buzzword throughout the technology industry, cloud computing has been a hot topic inside the Beltway. From the data center consolidation movement to the federal “cloud first” mandate and now with mobility and big data seeing an uptick in popularity, the government is shifting their discussion away from cloud being the destination to cloud as the enabler.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget and many agency CTOs see the cloud as the common platform for mobile, big data and other key technology trends that allow sharing the government’s wealth of valuable data with the world in new ways. The goal is to make the nation’s data resource open and accessible for all, from everywhere. While there is building consensus that the cloud will become the mechanism for people to widely access data, to achieve that we need standardization around every aspect of the cloud and data interfaces. In order to make government data available for a variety of applications, the many clouds used by each government entity must first be able to communicate with and access one another. The more standardization we have, the better government agencies will be able to integrate across clouds and collaborate.

Open standards in cloud computing not only provide integration and break down barriers between clouds within government, but also drive workload portability and an end to vendor lock-in. As governments continue to embrace clouds of different sorts with multiple vendors, the need for data and application portability becomes more acute.

Public sector IT managers venturing into the cloud space should carefully consider the cloud solutions that they leverage for their applications. By leveraging a proprietary infrastructure, your apps may become dependent on the individual cloud service provider and may have sacrificed the flexibility of data and application portability. Essentially, open standards provide a common baseline allowing easy portability, avoiding vendor lock-in and potentially escalating costs.

To combat such proprietary approaches to cloud computing and to propel open standards, there’s a growing movement behind the OpenStack Foundation and other groups committed to open cloud computing technologies. Born out of a government project, OpenStack has been a key player in founding the cloud open source movement, but private sector support is key to maintaining the momentum. As a cross vendor consortium, OpenStack, and the commercial products built on it, ultimately make stronger and more innovative solutions as vendors donate back into the code base, establishing it as a growth platform for industry and government users alike.

In addition to the benefits of data and application portability, well-defined standards can also spur innovation. Just as mobile app open standards have spawned the development of hundreds of thousands of smartphone applications, common cloud standards will mean that governments are able to leverage a universal platform for innovation.

Governmental cloud computing solutions built on open standards like OpenStack will ultimately allow governments to focus on delivering value to the public without the burden of proprietary IT infrastructure, providing benefits for everyone by providing greater access to a wealth of government data and services. More and more, governments are recognizing that cloud – more than any other Beltway buzzword – will enable solutions that deliver better services to their constituents.

Michelle Rudnicki has over 29 years of experience in the IT Industry. In her current role she is responsible for leveraging IBM’s portfolio of Cloud offerings to help federal government clients optimize their infrastructures and better enable their businesses through the use of cloud computing. She has also worked as the NA VP of Cloud Computing helping clients during the early adoption of cloud. Prior to this role, she was the VP of IBM Federal Smarter Planet Initiatives where she led the Growth Initiatives across IBM’s US Federal organization working with clients to implement solutions in the areas of cloud, analytics, security, and sustainability. She and her team leveraged IBM’s experience in these complex problem areas and applied it to the unique challenges of the Federal environment. Ms. Rudnicki has a deep background in implementing technology solutions having held sales leadership positions as the VP of Systems Technology Sales for IBM Federal and other roles within the Systems Technology Group. Ms. Rudnicki holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester, having graduated with honors of Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. Ms. Rudnicki lives with her husband and two sons in Bethesda, MD.

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