The federal government has made a concerted effort to move toward “cloud computing” — when you upload, store and access your data at an online service owned or operated by others. Millions of consumers use cloud computing services such as Web-based e-mail, online photo or video databases, or Internet calendar services. Last month, the Office of Management and Budget announced: “We are reducing our data center footprint by 40 percent by 2015 and shifting the agency default approach to IT to a cloud-first policy as part of the 2012 budget process.” Last week, General Services Administration announced that it had entered into a 5-year, $6.7-million contract with Google and Unisys to use Gmail and other cloud services from Google.
Microsoft Corp. said it notched a victory in the increasingly competitive field of “cloud” computing, signing a deal with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to supply online e-mail, collaboration and other online applications to the agency’s 120,000 employees. […]
Microsoft, Salesforce, Google Inc. and other technology companies are jockeying for leadership in cloud computing, in which the functions of corporate applications once run internally are operated remotely in data centers and delivered as a service to customers over the Web. […]
The USDA will begin migrating workers to Microsoft’s services in the next four weeks. The USDA said the deal with Microsoft is worth $27 million over three years and the agency estimated it will save about $6 million a year compared to what spending would be using its current technologies. […]
Public-sector clients have been aggressive in moving their operations online, in part because tight budgets make the cost savings associated with cloud services more attractive, said Curt Kolcun, vice president of U.S. public-sector business for Microsoft.