The Obama Administration is saving you money with cloud computing. The White House announced yesterday that it will move the stimulus website, Recovery.gov, to "hardware and services [that] are shared, and not owned by the government."
As Nicholas Carr explains in The Big Switch, cloud computing is to information technology what the power grid is to electrical service. When electrical equipment first came about, each factory built and maintained its own electrical generators, just as factories previously had to generate their own mechanical power with onsite water wheels and steam engines. Then manufacturers realized they could outsource power generation to a big utility that generated oodles of power in a coal-fired plant or hydroelectric dam while the manufacturers concentrated on the widget-making they were good at.
Similarly with information technology: as computers developed over the last 50 years, businesses had to create their own IT departments to install and mainatain all of their own mainframes and servers and software. Cloud computing says, "Hey! You're not a computer company! You're a widget maker (or, in this case, the federal government). Focus on your core competency. Let us generate your computing power and manage your software." Instead of having your own bank of high-powered computers with expensive software, you just plug your vanilla computer into the Web, switch on your browser, and access software and processing power from a central utility.
The Office of Management and Budget says switching Recovery.gov to cloud computing will save $750,000 this year alone. Switch a million (oops! 1.15 million) more programs, and we'll have the stimulus paid for!
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