The Obama administration's technology agenda saw a major leap forward Tuesday as federal CIO Vivek Kundra unveiled the U.S. government's Apps.gov, an online storefront where government agencies can purchase online applications from the likes of Google and Salesforce.com.
Apps.gov will be run and managed by the General Services Administration (GSA). The move is one of the first major cloud-based technology initiatives from Kundra, who made the announcement at a press event Tuesday at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
Both Kundra and federal CTO Aneesh Chopra are attempting to push forward the idea of an open, transparent federal government that embraces technology and sees the business efficiency benefits in areas such as cloud services. In comments Tuesday, Kundra played up potential savings in the government's annual IT spend (expected to be $75 billion in fiscal 2010).
"We are just beginning this undertaking, and it will take time before we can realize the full potential of cloud computing," wrote Kundra in a Tuesday blog post to the White House Web site. "By consolidating available services, Apps.gov is a one-stop source for cloud services -- an innovation that not only can change how IT operates but also save taxpayer dollars in the process." Apps.gov will scale throughout the next two years, according to Kundra, and the government plans to add lightweight applications as early as next year, with federal agencies beginning to receive guidance on shifting to cloud-based technologies by 2011.
Cloud computing initiatives are high on the minds of vendors and VARs alike as the new federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and they gear up for a new buying cycle. In a recent Channelweb.com look at federal spending priorities and hot topics for the federal IT buying season, several VARs pointed out that cloud computing is officially called out in the FY2011 OMB budget guidance -- the first time that's ever happened.
Google said Tuesday in a post to the Google Enterprise Blog it would continue to tailor new services for government to support Apps.gov.
Back in July, Google first mentioned it would work to make Google Apps pass muster under the Federal Information Security Act (FISMA), and Matthew Glotzbatch, director of product management for Google Enterprise, wrote Tuesday that that process is "nearing completion." Google also said it intends to create a government cloud that offers the same features available in Google's commercial cloud portfolio but adjusted to FISMA and other government regulations. Google said it wants to have the government Google cloud operational by 2010.