Will the poor economy push to the forefront technologies that promise money savings, like cloud computing and virtualization? Some government agencies in Washington are already looking in that direction.


The economy is forcing everyone, including government agencies, to cut back. One major way for government to cut back on expenses lies with changing the way it manages its data, according to Kim Hart of The Washington Post.

Nearly half of the government’s information technology budget — about $33 billion — is spent in the Washington region, according to Input, a Reston market-research firm that tracks federal contracts. Senior analyst Deniece Peterson expects IT spending to increase 3 to 4 percent over the next five years.

Contractors that sell technology services are shifting their business strategies to embrace the latest buzzword in government IT: cloud computing (and its distant cousins, Open Source and virtualization).

For example, for years the information technology firm Apptis has been helping government agencies integrate huge software and hardware systems. This involves the government shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars to Apptis to buy new equipment as needed, set it up, and provide engineers to maintain it.

But Apptis has made a change in its game plan. Instead of going the old route of selling hundreds of servers and expensive software licences, the company is now working to help government agencies house their data on outside services and to consolidate their equipment. Apptis engineers are looking at new job roles.

Whether this trend will continue to grow is not clear. For government agencies, security is a huge concern with cloud computing since data would have to be stored on servers that are out of the government’s control. But Hart says,

Nonetheless, many government IT firms around the Beltway are setting up their own data centers to sell computing capacity to their customers. Others are partnering with companies that already have massive data storage facilities.

Skeptics say that cloud computing is nothing new; merely the same old client-server computing IT pros have been dealing with for years. But the current bad economic times may be the impetus to get it shifted to the spotlight.