Aiming to save billions on infrastructure costs, the federal government is following in the footsteps of Silicon Valley by building its own Google-like server farms and Internet applications with the help of NASA Ames researchers.
At a press conference at Moffett Field on Tuesday morning, the White House's first-ever chief information officer, Vivek Kundra, said the Obama administration began working on the initiative in March to address the "duplicative" nature of the federal government's computer networks, "where you have 23 data centers in one agency."
He said the Bush administration passed on so-called "cloud computing" plans due to concerns that it could leave the government's computer network vulnerable to attack. Obama shares those concerns, he said, and a measured approach will be taken to ensure that secret data and sensitive computer systems are protected.
A major part of the initiative is a new "cloud computing storefront" for federal agencies at www.apps.gov. Federal agencies can obtain generic applications from the site at little or no cost in four major categories: social networking, business apps, productivity apps and cloud IT services.
Kundra claims the initiative will save billions of dollars while also saving energy through more efficient use of Internet server technology. He said NASA Ames has already figured out ways to fit computing power that would normally take up an entire city block into one shipping container.
"I'm proud to say that Ames Research Center and NASA is actually leading the way in providing a solution," Kundra said.