Cloud computing in the President's 2011 budget

When it comes to cloud computing, the Obama Administration is putting some skin in the game.
Everyone talks about the capacity of cloud computing to transform government and reduce costs (one study estimates that federal agencies could eventually save 85% of their IT budgets by moving to the cloud). But the vast majority of the federal government's IT spending today is spent on traditional desktop or client-server computing. And until that changes, the federal government won't have the ability to tap the true potential of cloud computing.

That's why the inclusion of cloud computing in the Obama Administration's new FY 2011 budget is a big deal. Check out page 42 of the budget overview which identifies the problem:
"Under the leadership of the Federal Chief Information Officer, the Administration is continuing its efforts to close the gap in effective technology use between the private and public sectors. Specifically, the Administration will continue to roll out less intensive and less expensive cloud-computing technologies; reduce the number and cost of Federal data centers; and work with agencies to reduce the time and effort required to acquire IT, improve the alignment of technology acquisitions with agency needs, and hold providers of IT goods and services accountable for their performance."
Later on page 321 of the Analytical Perspectives section, the Administration writes that
Adoption of a cloud computing model is a major part of the strategy to achieve efficient and effective IT. After evaluation in 2010, agencies will deploy cloud computing solutions across the Government to improve the delivery of IT services.
And on page 327, the Administration says that it will, among other things
[...] initiate pilot projects in cloud computing to transform how the Government provides computing services while taking steps to improve the security of Federal information and systems.
What about specific funding commitments? We've learned this morning that federal CIO Vivek Kundra will control a $35 million fund to set up innovative tech pilot projects, including projects using cloud computing.

These pilot projects will be a drop in the bucket of the $79.4 billion federal IT budget, but it's still a great start. Here's hoping that the congressional budget and appropriations committees agree with the Administration that cloud computing represents the future for federal government computing.