What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing provides scalable information technology (IT) capabilities and services that an organization can access over a network. Cloud computing is "scalable" because as your needs grow the computing power that you buy quickly and economically grows with you. Typically (but not always) you access that computer power, configure your cloud services, and specify your needs over the Internet.
Benefits to cloud computing include enabling agencies to reduce costs, improve efficiencies, and consider IT capabilities that were otherwise too expensive or time-consuming to attempt. You reduce costs because you only pay software, computing platforms, and infrastructure that you use. You also have fewer capital expenditures since the cloud service provider buys and maintains the hardware needed to run your computing services.
Your IT staff becomes more efficient by supporting agency staff and their computing needs instead of maintaining legacy computing systems. Furthermore, once you set up cloud services for some of your computing systems, you can experiment with the services' additional capabilities without incurring substantial start up and implementation costs - they already exist for you to try. As you consider moving to the cloud, learn how agencies are already benefiting from cloud computing and how your agency can use cloud services to reap similar benefits.
Many Types of Cloud
"Cloud" is a term that is used in many different ways. Once you get a better feel for what cloud services have to offer you, become more familiar with the some of the different implementations such service models and deployment models. "Service model" is a technical term that describes how much of your computing portfolio you migrate to the cloud. You could migrate a basic application or the capabilities of an entire data center. Each one, and everything in between, could be considered a cloud solution. "Deployment model" refers to the location of the cloud and who has access to it.
Cloud computing is an important part of a government-wide effort to modernize and streamline government IT. Organizations such as OMB, GSA, and NIST have furthered the adoption of cloud computing by publishing resources and guidance. These resources can help you develop a strategy for adopting cloud services and justify the effort for doing so.
You should also review two important programs: FedRAMP and the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI). FedRAMP is a government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services. The FDCCI aims to reduce the number of federal data centers by optimizing them, consolidating them, or shutting them down.