Ballmer's cloud memo plays to next administration

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer's cloud computing memo, titled "A Platform for the Next Technology Revolution," sent to partners and customers this week seems timed to catch the attention of the next administration, reports Computerworld.

In the days immediately following the election, the president-elect will dispatch transition teams. And since both Barack Obama and John McCain's campaigns have relied heavily on social networking sites and other cloud-based services to help their campaigns, these transition teams may come to Washington with a different attitude about what they want from federal IT systems.

That's why next week's election may create an opportunity for vendors to pitch new technology directions, and cloud services adoption in particular, said Michael Farber, a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., a management consulting firm with a number of federal clients.

Farber said he believes the period following the election will be a fertile time to "structure a pilot and forge a partnership with Google."

Ballmer's memo, which echoed the sweeping, change-is-at-hand message of Bill Gates' 1995 Internet Tidal Wave memo bundles the cloud, social networking, and the diversity of access devices, to argue that a "dramatic transformation" is taking place in IT. The vendors are already pushing federal IT managers to adopt some of these changes.

Microsoft and other cloud services providers including Google, believe their platforms can handle the government's most sensitive material. At a small forum
in Washington that included government IT managers from the data processing-intensive intelligence community such as one who identified himself (to chuckles from the audience) as from a "non-descript" federal agency, attendees raised questions about the security of cloud services.

The vendors say they can tackle security issues with their cloud services. Ron Markezich, corporate vice president of Microsoft Online, said he believes the company's new cloud platform Windows Azure would meet classified requirements, regardless of if it is in one of Microsoft's data centers or one operated by a partner. The United States already uses private data center providers for some of its classified data processing, he pointed out.

The Defense Information Systems Agency has already adopted cloud computing as its internal IT model.

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