This is an exciting time, when the future becomes the present. Who could have imagined access to the world's knowledge base in the palm of your hand, anywhere, any time? Who could have imagined the ability of entrepreneurs to project global business presence without their own IT infrastructure and technical staff?
Such is the power of the cloud. It creates enormous opportunities for businesses – large and small – to create new products and services, operate more nimbly and efficiently, advancing the digital economy and our global leadership. It also creates opportunities for governments to operate more efficiently and offer services and capabilities that were heretofore largely inaccessible. However, like all new technologies, the cloud brings challenges as well.
Today, the TechAmerica Foundation released its cloud computing report. I was privileged to be the commercial co-chair, working with a host of industry and academic leaders drawn from across the spectrum of cloud providers, service and software developers and researchers.
The report addresses two key issues, raised respectively by Vivek Kundra, the U.S. Federal CIO, and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. TechAmerica assembled a diverse set of industry leaders to address the twin charges:
- Identify the principles and actions that could accelerate the uptake of cloud services by the U.S. government, as part of the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy.
- Recommend actions that would ensure the competitiveness of U.S. companies and cloud providers, domestically and internationally.
The report identifies a set of best practices and actions, in response to both charges. These recommendations focus on a diverse set of topics. These include: (a) the need to update U.S. laws (e.g., the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act) to reflect changing technology and legal needs; (b) clearer rules and processes on data breach disclosures to maximize transparency; (c) realization of an identity management ecosystem as envisioned by the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC); (d) sufficient bandwidth and web addresses to enable reliable connectivity to the cloud; and (e) clarity around the rising issues around transnational data flows. (See Information Privacy: Changing Norms and Expectations.) Finally, the report discusses the need for ongoing industry and academic research to advance cloud computing technologies and the cultural issues that often limit the deployment of new technologies.
As William Gibson once noted, the future is here; it is just not evenly distributed. We have the opportunity distribute the future more evenly, making client and cloud services universally available, creating jobs, ensuring American competitiveness and empowering innovation. I believe we can and we will, working together, private and public sector, to ensure U.S. competitiveness and cloud uptake. I encourage you to read the report, offer comments and engage in the ongoing dialog on the rich and rapidly evolving world of client and cloud services.
Finally, on a personal note, I am especially indebted to my colleague, Elizabeth Grossman, who worked long hours under stringent time constraints to help complete this report.