While government IT hasn't received the positive attention it was hoping for over the past month due to the troubled launch of HealthCare.gov, that hasn't put a damper on continued IT investments in both public and private cloud computing.
IBM recently withdrew its bid for a federal contract building a cloud for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to InfoWorld contributor David Linthicum. With IBM conceding, Amazon Web Services has an opportunity to change the ways of federal IT for the better.
Earlier this year, the CIA awarded AWS with a $600 million contract, a bid that was $54 million higher than IBM's. IBM had filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims asking for a halt in contract work between the CIA and AWS. However, a subsequent court filing by the government cited that any further delay on the contract would be harmful to national security, according to the source.
Following this ruling, IBM withdrew its filing, leaving AWS at the helm of developing a secret cloud that will likely begin before the end of the year. While the competition between two tech giants over the construction of a gigantic cloud project was certainly entertaining for industry experts, the real important theme that should be taken away is the government's investment in cloud computing solutions.
Cloud computing for national security
The deal between AWS and the CIA is just one of several federal cloud contracts currently underway, and the use of "megacontracts" between the government and cloud service providers may foreshadow the future of federal IT.
"[Federal cloud adoption] should be good news for the taxpayers, as it could at some point reverse the government's addiction to data centers," Linthicum wrote. "Cheaper cloud computing should lead to reduced government spending and perhaps to better government services."
The importance of reduced public spending for enhanced government services has taken center stage after an initial $394 million of taxpayers' money was spent on the glitch-prone HealthCare.gov website, which debuted on Oct. 1 and has yet to be permanently fixed. The failure of HealthCare.gov reiterated the frequent mismanagement on the part of government and the contractors they award projects when it comes to building large, scalable systems on the open Internet. Although the healthcare exchange website utilized Verizon's public cloud services, the disastrous start to the massive healthcare IT project has sounded alarms over future IT endeavors.
Just as Fortune 500 companies have come to realize the benefits of private and public cloud services from reduced costs to increased scalability and efficiency, it appears the government has finally acknowledged how it could reform everything from its computing resources to its notoriously counterproductive IT procurement system.
"The government needs to get smarter around the use of public and private cloud resources, and there is no substitute for experience," Linthicum noted. "Now that the legal issues are out of the way for the CIA cloud, perhaps the feds can accelerate its overall adoption of the cloud."