Government Blogs
Cloud basics
Entering the cloud
Cloud computing can be cheaper, faster, and greener. Without any infrastructure investments, you can get powerful software and massive computing resources quickly—with lower up-front costs and fewer management headaches down the road.
The pay-as-you-go benefits are so compelling that the federal budget submitted to congress in February 2010 commits to the use of cloud computing technologies and to a reduction in the number and cost of federal data centers.
Which cloud is right for your agency?
Software as a Service (SaaS): The applications people use every day.
These applications are developed and built for the Internet. Services, like email, are most affordable.

Platform as a Service (PaaS): The operating environment in which applications run.
You can deliver services broadly without having to manage the infrastructure.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Flexible computing capacity you rent when you need it.
Instead of owning and running your facility, servers, and network, get pay-as-you-go data center capacity for adding CPUs, storage, networking, or web hosting.
Considering the cloud
1 Validate cloud services
Discover how much cloud computing is already taking place in your organization or related agencies, and learn how existing applications could take advantage of the cloud.
Evaluate a web service or hosted application in a test or development environment to see how much time and money are saved. Use these savings to justify future endeavors.
2 Budget for the cloud
Consider how the cloud can give you a predictable budget and plan for IT resources. Offloading some IT functions to the cloud can free up funds for new projects.
Talk to peers and find ways to share networks, PCs, and even email services.
Some cloud strategies, like PaaS, pay off over time, so factor in how long it might take to recoup your investment, and set expectations accordingly.
3 Integrate cloud services
Look for ways to integrate on-premise applications and databases with cloud technologies to offer more or faster services. Make sure your data is secured not only at the ends but also in transit.
Think big—especially if you’re a small agency. Cloud services are massively scalable. Who else might benefit? Keep other agencies in the loop.
Determining your cloud mix
Is all cloud, all on premises, or a little of both the right approach for your agency?
Use this checklist to help you determine which agency priorities are best served in the cloud.
On premises Hybrid Cloud
Heterogeneous infrastructure Homogeneous infrastructure
Capital expense Operating expense
Own Lease or rent
Self-managed Third-party managed
Technology update cycle
in years
Technology update cycle
in months
On-site policy and compliance Off-site policy and compliance
Build for peak demand Scale demand for peaks
and valleys
Learn more about the cloud


Cloud vocabulary
Cloud computing. As defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.
Services. These include software and hardware, from email to entire IT platforms.
Hosted. Someone else is making a service or application available to you via the cloud.
Dynamic or elastic service capacity. The cloud allocates computing resources as demand changes.
On-demand service. You can get what you need when you need it.
Broad network access. The cloud brings network-based access to (and management of) software and services—meaning access is anywhere, anytime.
Resource pooling. A large pool of users shares location-independent resources and costs in an environmentally sustainable way.
Flexible resource allocation. As demands fluctuate, cloud services can scale rapidly. You don’t have to worry about bringing new servers online or reallocating resources.
Measured service. Usage is metered—often per user or per hour. This means you pay only for what you use. Service levels are contractually defined.
Entering the cloud

Get the basic information that agencies need to consider for cloud computing.

Government benefits in the cloud

Learn how agencies can benefit from moving into the cloud.

Security in the cloud

Explore security issues around cloud computing and ways to avert them.


Deliver applications and services to users—regardless of their location—with Software as a Service (SaaS).


Benefit from a cloud operating environment where you don’t have to manage the infrastructure, with Platform as a Service (PaaS).


Rent data center capacity as needed, rather than owning and running hardware, with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Private cloud

Discover if a private cloud—with dedicated resources, additional control, and customization—is right for you.