Who Are the Contenders for the Federal Cloud?

Which players figure to benefit if the U.S. government’s looming data center consolidation shifts large numbers of federal applications from in-house data centers to cloud computing platforms? In recent weeks, key players in the government computing niche have been positioning their cloud offerings ahead of the announcement of the consolidation initiative. Here are the companies whose track record and cloud platforms have positioned them for leadership in this lucrative niche:

HP: The huge hardware and software giant designed and built a secure cloud computing platform for the Department of Defense. The cloud initiative, known as RACE (Rapid Access Computing Environment) is designed to reduce costs, consolidate applications and shorten delivery times for DoD computing projects. On Feb. 16 HP announced a Cloud Design Service to provide consulting services for organizations building large-scale hybrid cloud environments. The company’s EDS unit has been a leading systems integrator for government agencies, including DHS and the FDA.

IBM: Big Blue is an established player in the government IT arena, and is already building a cloud platform for the U.S. Air Force that is designed to be “capable of supporting defense and intelligence networks.”

CSC: Last June CSC announced Trusted Cloud Services, a cloud computing offering that will build on the company’s historic strength managing highly-secure data center infrastructure for government and enterprise clients. CSC is partnering with Terremark and Microsoft, among others, to support its offering.

Terremark: The colocation and managed hosting specialist has been among the early winners in the government cloud shift, hosting the Data.gov and USA.gov web sites on its cloud platform, while benefiting from CSC’s presence as the anchor tenant in its NAP of the Capital Region data fortress in Culpeper, Virginia.

Savvis: This managed hosting provider is currently hosting Apps.gov, an online storefront for cloud services and applications for federal agencies. It just reorganized its cloud offerings – which include IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services – under the Savvis Symphony brand.

Carpathia Hosting: This managed services provider has a strong base of federal customers, and has been expanding in Virginia with a new data center and its acquisition of ServerVault. Last week Carpathia said it would team with Citrix to offer cloud solutions for government agencies.

Amazon: The cloud computing market leader has launched a federal division and is partnering with partnering with Apptis, an experienced player in the government IT arena. The company is also building a new data center to expand its presence in northern Virginia.   

Microsoft: Last week Microsoft unveiled a new, dedicated government cloud as part of Microsoft Online Services. The company says its new Business Productivity Online Suite Federal offering is customized for the security, privacy and compliance needs of U.S. federal government agencies.

Google: Last September Google unveiled plans for a government cloud platform that will become operational in 2010. “Offering the same services and features as our existing commercial cloud (such as Google Apps), this dedicated environment within existing Google facilities in the US will serve the unique needs of US federal, state, and local governments,” the company said.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. This is an accurate assessment Rich. I would add one more opportunity segment and that is the build to suit market. Just because the Feds can't build data centers and must consolidate them poses two issues - no capital and many 50 watt/sq ft facilities that are already tapped out. Based on discussions with agencies and large SI's, some agencies are exploring build to suit options where a 3rd party builds a facility and hands the keys over on a long term lease. The 3rd party may or may not provide services as part of the package. The other wrinkle that the cloud providers must address is data staying on US soil and the burden of proof associated with it. I have seen this time and again be an issue. I think those providers who are US based with US facilities are able to address this concern up front better than some of the global providers in the space.

  2. Two of the biggest contenders aren't listed. Opsware ( HP Server Automation ) ( Probably used in RACE and every other private cloud on the planet ) And far more importantly NASA's Nebula Cloud project.