Cloud VARs: Federal CIO Kundra's Departure Won't Stop Cloud Revolution


Federal CIO Vivek Kundra's planned exit from his position in August won't slow the momentum of federal cloud computing initiatives or have a negative impact on solution providers who sell into the cloud, several cloud VARs said.

Instead, solution providers said Kundra's massive cloud efforts lit the fuse for a cloud computing market that is set to explode with or without Kundra as federal CIO.

The White House announced in a blog post Thursday that Kundra plans to leave his post after two-and-a-half years as the first federal CIO. Kundra will leave as federal CIO in mid-August to take a fellow position at Harvard. An immediate successor was not named.

Kundra has been a major proponent of cloud computing and IT cost cutting as the Obama administration seeks to leverage new and emerging technologies.

While losing Kundra's backing of cloud computing could slow cloud adoption, cloud VARs are confident that the momentum Kundra started in the cloud will continue and national interest in cloud won't wane.

"His leaving introduces risk," said Tony Safoian, CEO of North Hollywood, Calif.-based cloud solution provider SADA Systems. "But the momentum public cloud has will be difficult to stop or slow down. This is now mainstream. It's here to stay."

Rick Marcotte, president and CEO of DLT Solutions, a Herndon, Va.-based government solution provider, said the cloud revolution started by Kundra at a federal level will continue unimpeded.

"Kundra was a driving force behind data center consolidation, increased rigor related to evaluating and creating milestone markers for major federal projects, and harnessing the power of cloud computing to optimize the relationship between taxpayer funds and IT assets," Marcotte said. "Although he is leaving his leadership position, the vision and path he outlined is already in hyper motion across government and industry and will continue unabated. Most of the CIOs and Deputy CIOs across federal IT organizations are 'on board' with the program and won't lose a step even though the primary cheerleader has left the building. Even when Colonel Sanders died, Kentucky Fried Chicken kept on selling."

Keith Nelson, vice president of technology for Vistem Solutions, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider that has a federal government IT contract for the Port of Long Beach and Los Angeles, said the cloud computing charge will continue despite Kundra's departure.

"I don't think it will stall," he said. "Kundra is a visionary and a generalist. The people underneath him are driving the initiatives. Cloud is unstoppable. It is all about consolidation. There are some real cost savings. We have to cut government costs."

According to Safoian, federal technology initiatives are often viewed as a benchmark for enterprise and other businesses. Having been vetted by Kundra and the feds is almost a "seal of approval for the enterprise," Safoian said, and Kundra worked diligently to put that stamp on cloud computing. SADA has seen that trickle-down effect, scoring several state and local government cloud contracts and working some emerging opportunities in the federal space.

"It's very rare you get someone in this position that is willing to follow a trend, especially a trend that is sort of anti-establishment," Safoian said. "We love what he did in terms of moving the needle."

Nelson, who said about 30 percent of his current projects are cloud-based, said he sees Kundra as an idealist who got frustrated.

"Kundra understood he could not be a true CIO. He couldn't push all the buttons because all the budgets are so disparate and the government is so slow to move," said Nelson. "The ship is hard to turn. He got frustrated. He wanted to move into an environment where he could have an impact. Think about it. He was young in his career jumping from a city to the federal government. That is huge. That is like going from high school to the major leagues. He wasn't used to the frustration of working in a bureaucracy."

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