Government Should Consider Windows Azure as Part of its “Cloud-First” Strategy

Recently, the United States Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, published a 25 point plan to reform the government’s IT management.

Point number 3 states that the government should shift to a ”Cloud-First” policy. When describing that point, Mr. Kundra tells of a private company that managed to scale up from 50 to 4,000 virtual servers in three days, to support a massive increase in demand. He contrasts that with the government’s ”Cash-For-Clunkers” program, which was overwhelmed by unexpected demand.

You might be interested in the entire report at this URL, http://www.cio.gov/documents/25-Point-Implementation-Plan-to-Reform-Federal%20IT.pdf.

Microsoft Windows Azure is perfect for this type of scenario. If your program is less successful than you hoped, you can scale down. If you’re lucky enough to be the next Twitter, you can scale up as much as you need to.  Tune your application up or down to handle spikes in demand.  You only pay for the resources that you use, and Microsoft handles the entire infrastructure for you. Scaling up or down is simply a matter of specifying the number of virtual machines required, in a configuration file.

Visual Studio and the .NET Framework make programming Windows Azure applications easy. Visual Studio automates much of the deployment of an Azure application. Web sites can be created using ASP.NET. Web services are easy with Windows Communication Foundation. There’s seamless integration of data using either Azure storage or SQL Azure. Plus, you can leverage the existing knowledge of your .NET developers.

If you prefer Java or PHP, Azure supports those as well. Most any program that will run on Windows will also run on Azure, as under the hood it’s just Windows Server 2008.

In point 3.2 of that report, it states that each agency must find 3 ”must move” services to migrate to the cloud. If you’re a government IT worker or contractor trying to help meet that goal, you might be interested in learning more about Windows Azure. Come to Learning Tree course 2602, Windows Azure Platform Introduction: Programming Cloud-Based Applications.

There are many other cloud computing platforms and services besides Azure. These include Amazon EC2, Google App Engine and many others. To learn more about the broad range of cloud services and choices available, you might like to come to Learning Tree Course 1200: Cloud Computing Technologies.

Doug Rehnstrom

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