Innovation an often overlooked advantage of federal cloud integration

When observers discuss the federal government's embrace of cloud computing and its attendant benefits, the main focus usually falls on cost savings, disaster recover abilities and improved security. However, while all of these are indeed major advantages, such reports typically overlook one of the most significant upsides to cloud integration. As Wired contributor Jane Snowdon of IBM explained, by embracing the cloud, agencies can encourage superior innovation throughout the government. 

Crucially, Snowdon pointed out that the cloud allows government agencies to provide developers and other personnel with tools and resources that would otherwise be beyond reach, due to their heavy investment requirements. This includes both software and cloud servers, she noted. 

The cloud further encourages innovation by making these resources available quickly. According to Snowdon, federal IT professionals working in a DevOps model can provision a cloud environment in seconds. This means that departments can begin hosting new applications in a matter of hours, rather than the months required in legacy models. Such speed and flexibility makes it easier for developers to take chances and explore new possibilities.

While Snowdon acknowledged that some progress has been made, there is still a tremendous amount of potential when it comes to using the cloud to improve innovation. 

To a certain extent, this may be attributable to a simple lack of awareness. While government leaders are increasingly coming to understand that the cloud can prove incredibly beneficial to their agencies, they lack the detailed knowledge of many IT professionals. Consequently, the cloud's potential for encouraging innovation is likely mostly unknown. Cloud vendors and third-party cloud integration experts should work closely with government personnel to increase awareness and also guide the adoption and utilization process. 

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