The government’s Cloud First strategy has identified some $20 billion in savings available as a result of moving traditional IT to cloud services. In light of this, and recognizing that the future of IT is in the cloud, the Federal government has begun to make some bold moves to advance a modernization agenda.
This includes announcing the Digital Services Team, a team that will work with government agencies to upgrade technology infrastructure and government websites, and establishing 18F, a group of experts focused on building and modernizing digital services in partnership with agencies, helping them better and more nimbly deliver on their important missions. Leaders at 18F have already begun inviting American citizens and technology designers and developers to improve the country’s code base, and choosing the right platform is a large part of this optimization process.
For agencies who are exploring a number of modernizations and moves to the cloud, it’s important to focus on environments that support agile development, code reuse and allow the government to scale the innovations they’ve created across all government agencies, without having to scale their workforce or invest in new applications.
At Microsoft, we applaud this approach and our platform is designed with this open and agile model in mind. In fact, we’ve been building on our code base in many of the same ways for years, and we are continually working to extend these capabilities across the larger ecosystem.
Our goal is to enable anyone, from federal employees to private citizens, to engage, collaborate and innovate with government by being able to freely access and use open source tools. To deliver on this vision, we embrace code reuse and interoperability across a variety of open source, open standards and languages. We also offer flexible cloud services to governments to help enable openness and choice of technology.
There are a number of ways Microsoft is actively committing to providing an optimal platform for an open and agile government. Here are a few proof points of our commitment to this strategy:
Support for Open Source Languages & Environments: A growing number of open languages and platforms are supported by Microsoft Azure, including Java, PHP, Node.js, and Python. Additionally, many open-source environments, including Linux, Hadoop, MongoDB, Drupal and Joomla, run on the Microsoft platform. This type of support helps enable agencies to get started quickly and take full advantage of our Azure cloud services.
Flexible Cloud Services: Due to the nature of Federal IT today, many agencies need to retain on-premises IT systems while also leveraging the scale, cost, and convenience of enterprise cloud services. Microsoft is the only cloud vendor that can offer a hybrid cloud platform, reaching across on-premises and the cloud, while offering agencies the ability to choose from a range of open source languages, libraries, distributions, and platforms.
Embracing Code Reuse: Developers can plug into software services like GitHub and CodePlex to see what we’re doing and start sharing their own code. We are continually contributing to and working with open source communities to promote interoperability and make it easier for customers to develop and manage mixed IT environments.
One key advantage to the evolution of Federal IT service models is that Azure supports multiple operating systems at scale and allows agencies to deliver hybrid models of applications on an integrated platform. What this means is that with Azure, developers have the option to deploy applications and services in the cloud that do not depend on a specific platform. These applications can be delivered to users across a wide variety of device types and browsers, while supporting code reuse and collaborative development for continuous improvement in the future.
Azure is a service platform from which digital governments can flourish. At Microsoft, we are embracing the transformative potential of an open cloud and open source. Our cloud momentum this week in San Francisco, and our collaboration with Docker on integrating Docker Hub into Azure, is further proof of our commitment to provide governments the openness, transparency, and choice needed to move to the cloud with confidence.
Stay tuned for more on this blog as we’ll be sharing more news and updates regarding our government cloud in the coming months.
Kent Cunningham, CTO of Federal Civilian & Health, Microsoft