Importance and Application of Cloud Computing for Small Businesses

By Terry Griffin, Project Manager
Huntsville Advanced Defense Technology Cluster

Information below describes how federal government agencies and departments have turned to cloud computing. As competition increases for contracts in an austere budget environment, it is essential for small businesses to understand the importance and application of cloud computing.

“Cloud computing is the delivery of software, processing power, and storage over the Internet. Whether these resources are as ordinary as a library of music files or as complex as a network of supercomputers, cloud computing enables end-users to control them remotely and simply.” NASA’s effort to standardize its website inspired open-source cloud computing technology. The agency teams with San Antonio Texas-based Rackspace, Inc. to develop its cloud computing infrastructure. This technology has spurred the growth of an entire industry in services with millions in investment and hundreds of millions in revenue. Since the OpenStack project was announced in 2010, it has attracted a broad community of nearly 2500 independent developers and 150 companies including HP, Dell and Intel. (Source: NASA Spinoff 2012)

The adoption of cloud computing technology can improve information technology (IT) service and delivery while reducing cost of managing IT portfolios. The Office of Management and Budget requires federal agencies to adopt a “Cloud First” policy when contemplating IT purchases and, collaborating with several agencies, the General Services Administration has established the Federal Risk Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) Program. Beginning in June 2014, agencies will be required to utilize only FedRAMP-approved cloud service providers. (Source: NASA Audit Report, “NASA’S Progress in Adopting Cloud Computing Technologies,” July 29, 2013)

DoD released its Cloud Computing Strategy in July 2012. “The strategy was described as “an approach to move the Department from the current state of a duplicative, cumbersome, and costly set of application silos to an end state which is an agile, secure, and cost effective service environment that can rapidly respond to changing mission needs.” The strategy calls for a department-wide cloud architecture delivered by multiple cloud providers with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) serving as the “cloud broker.” DISA will lean on the FedRAMP Program to certify that commercial cloud products are secure. “Increased mission effectiveness and operational efficiencies are key benefits that can be achieved with cloud computing.” (Source: www.defense.gov/news/dodcloudcomputingstrategy.pdf)

Here are a couple tips to learn more. Small businesses and individuals interested in free cloud computing services may take a look at, Forbes’ recent “Top 12 Sites For Free Cloud Computing & Enterprise Software Research.” See www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2013/08/25/top-12-sites-for-free-clou.... Earlier this year, the HADTC hosted a class on Cloud Computing at Alabama A&M University. If you are interested in another class in 2014, contact Christi Jackson at cjackson@vcsi.org.