Posted by Teresa Carlson 
Vice President, Microsoft Federal

(Cross-posted from the Microsoft FutureFed blog)

Yesterday, U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra unveiled the federal government’s vision for cloud computing, beginning with Apps.gov, an online storefront federal agencies can use to purchase cloud-based IT services.  In his speech at the NASA Ames Research Center, Vivek made it clear that government must leverage cloud innovation to lower IT costs, efficiently pool resources across agencies and reduce energy consumption.  Apps.gov will simplify and streamline the procurement process for agencies, but to ensure success, we in industry need to make certain that federal organizations have a broad set of choices, including solutions for mixed hybrid (on-premise and cloud) environments, complete with rigorous interoperability and security standards. 

Already, Microsoft offers federal, state and local government agencies several cloud computing solutions, including popular products like Exchange, SharePoint, Office Communications Server, Public Sector On Demand, CRM, Live Meeting, and Bing Search and Maps.  This set of hosted services is one of most comprehensive in the market and as government begins to increasingly explore online tools and services, Microsoft is confident it presents that most flexible, reliable and – importantly – safe and secure solution.

The best part about Microsoft's approach to cloud computing is that it enables government customers to continue to use familiar user interfaces (such as the Microsoft Office system) and to rebalance their infrastructure across on-premise offerings for mission-critical applications and to offload non-differentiating applications, such as collaboration messaging, to Microsoft and its partners to host and run from the cloud.

Microsoft’s commitment to hosted software and services is evident from heavy investment in datacenter infrastructure that’s been taking place over the past several years. Last year, Microsoft invested more in datacenter infrastructure than Google and Yahoo.  Microsoft’s strategy is to offer customers the power of choice: run applications on-premises, via a hosted solution or through a hybrid of both. A hybrid model however demands an open environment for technology to work together.  Interoperability ensures that agencies can leverage existing on-premise investments in conjunction with new cloud-based offerings, and allows federal organizations to migrate to the cloud at their own pace.