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Remarks at NIST Cloud Computing Forum and Workshop

Tue, June 6, 2012

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank
Remarks at NIST Cloud Computing Forum and Workshop

Thank you, Dawn (Leas), and thanks to everyone at NIST, which is playing such an active leadership role in this area. Good morning everyone. It’s my pleasure to welcome you back to the Commerce Department for the second day of this important forum on cloud computing.

As the Deputy Secretary, I serve as the chief operating officer for the Department of Commerce. So, as you might imagine, I have a strong interest in hearing about how cloud computing can help reduce costs, improve efficiency, and create new, innovative ways to serve the American people.

Just like many businesses have already done, the federal government is finding better ways to meet our mission through the cloud. We want to be able to pay only for the IT resources we actually consume. We want to have the flexibility to increase or decrease our IT usage to meet the needs of our end users, and we want to do more to share and leverage the IT capacity that is spread across agencies.

Overall, using the cloud is a great example of a smart, creative approach that government can–and must–pursue in these tough fiscal times. Its potential has become far too great to ignore.

Yesterday, Secretary Bryson touched on how we have already used the cloud in the Commerce Department’s 2010 Census efforts.

Another one of our Commerce Department bureaus that is actively using the cloud is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration–NOAA. For example, NOAA’s Emergency Notification System uses a cloud-based technology to communicate with thousands of employees. So, last year, when a rare earthquake hit D.C., we used it to simultaneously contact all employees through smart phones, landlines, email, and text messaging. Importantly, we were able to alert employees as to when their building would be safe to re-enter.

Another example of NOAA using cloud technologies occurred when they moved their email to the cloud using Google Apps for Government. They moved 25,000 accounts to the cloud over six months. And, because of the cloud, they saved about 50 percent of the anticipated cost of developing a comparable in-house system.

These are examples of smart government. And we know we’ve only scratched the surface.

And it’s clear that we can’t fully utilize cloud computing without understanding the fast-changing landscape of available tools and technologies.  

It’s critically important that we hear from those in the private sector–including those here today–as to what government applications are working effectively and should be adopted now, and what looks to be most promising in the years ahead.

We particularly want to hear more perspectives on how public-private partnerships in cloud computing can help us move forward. Today, you will be discussing examples of where we can leverage and align public and private resources to make the biggest impact.

I’m sure that complex issues related to interoperability, security, and portability will all come up – as well as the goals outlined in the administration’s Cloud Computing Roadmap that was issued last fall, which I know many of you contributed to.

Already, we are seeing progress through Cloud-First and Shared-First initiatives in the federal government. In the long-term, we are forecasting that up to $20 billion of annual civilian IT costs could eventually move to the cloud, creating substantial savings and efficiencies along the way.

Today, I hope you’ll come up with new ways to accelerate that transition, and maximize potential at every turn.

Our leaders at the Commerce Department–NIST in particular–are here today to help, to lead, and–perhaps most important–to learn.

So, I want to thank all of you here today for engaging in this crucial discussion.  

This is a new, exciting, and challenging field–and it will take all of us working together to find the right solutions and the implement them effectively inside government.

Have a great day and thank you.