\u00a0What\u2019s really going on with cloud computing in government?\u00a0\tThat\u2019s been the key question for both public and private sector technology and security leaders over the past few years. Other perplexing issues include: Are the savings real? How can we accelerator cloud adoption in secure ways? \u00a0What\u2019s holding back decision-makers from more aggressively using available cloud services? What\u2019s working and what\u2019s not? And, perhaps most important, what success stories point the way for others to overcome obstacles and get in the cloud?\u00a0\tThese topics and more are covered in the just released report: The Cloud Imperative: Better Collaboration, Better Service, Better Cost by the TechAmerica Foundation. The full report and the executive summary can be downloaded for free at this new website for TechAmerica Foundation\u2019s State & Local Government Cloud Commission.\tWhy do I start by highlighting this report? This blog from Jacqueline Vanacek in Forbes answers that question by starting with her top 10 state\/local government cloud examples and going on to describe the commission\u2019s important findings:\t\u201c\u2026Cloud services can transform government services \u2013\u00a0of any type \u2013\u00a0from any agency \u2013\u00a0in any jurisdiction. We saw that repeatedly in our work on the TechAmerica\u00a0US Cloud Commission for State-Local Government\u00a0(SLG-CC).\tAs SAP\u2019s Commissioner and SLG-CC chair of the Business Impact team, I met many SLG thought leaders who are pushing the envelope to drive unique cloud opportunities under the most challenging circumstances.\tAbove are just a few of their\u00a0stories, and more can be found on the\u00a0SLG-CC Community Portal. The role of the Commission\u2019s combined industry\/government membership was to develop\u00a0recommendations\u00a0for driving adoption of cloud computing in SLG, and offer a roadmap\u00a0with\u00a0proof points from those who have succeeded and are leading the way.\tFor these public sector cloud pioneers, it\u2019s not just\u00a0a matter of wanting to be innovative.\u00a0 They are compelled to be innovative, because of ongoing budget pressures\u00a0and the need to do more with less, especially in an election year\u2026.\u201d\tThe SLG-CC has received plenty of positive press over the past few weeks. Here are some examples of the coverage:\tInfo Boom: Governments Warming up to Cloud Computing\tExcerpt:\t\u201c\u2026As more and more businesses of all sizes make the transition to the cloud, many state and local governments have been falling behind by holding onto legacy concepts about what computing should be. The TechAmerica Foundation, seeing the missed potential, put together a commission made up of 28 technology companies and a dozen government agents to detail how smaller governments could adopt the cloud\u2026.\u201d\teWeek: TechAmerica Releases Best-Practices Report for Government Cloud Adoption\u00a0\tExcerpt: "We've got to wake up. The problem is all these legacy systems. If we could start over, we'd be fine. But we're stuck with all these old contracts." -- California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.\tGovernment agencies at the federal and state levels talk a good game about wanting to refresh legacy data center systems by moving as many of them to cloud services as possible. Instantly realized cost-savings, ease of use and increased data safety and workload effectiveness are all factors that can't be denied anymore.\u00a0\t\u00a0Government Technology Magazine: \u00a0Cloud Commission Advises State and Local Governments to Evaluate, Collaborate\tExcerpt: \u201cFor state and local government agencies, cloud computing is no longer a choice \u2014 it has become an \u201cimperative\u201d the public sector must carry out, according to a new recommendations released Thursday, Feb. 15 by an advisory commission.\t\tAt a press conference held on a Microsoft campus, the panel of technology executives, and state and local government IT officials discussed the state of cloud computing deployment in the public sector and addressed the challenges to moving agencies and departments into a cloud environment\u2026.\u201d\u00a0\u00a0\tBack in 2010- 2011, the TechAmerica Foundation released the results of another Cloud Commission entitled: Cloud First, Cloud Fast: Recommendations for Innovation,\u00a0Leadership and Job Creation.\u00a0\u00a0\tThat Commission\u2019s report: \u201c\u2026 Focused on 14 specific recommendations, categorized into four thematic areas: Trust, Transnational Data Flows, Transparency, and Transformation. For each recommendation, the report identifies why the action is needed, how it should be implemented, who should implement it, and what benefits should be expected from implementation. The Commission intentionally made these recommendations direct and prescriptive\u2026.\u201d\tOther Cloud Opinions\tBut lest you think this is a commercial message for TechAmerica or just a summary of what vendors want us to hear, there are plenty of other sources on the same topic. For example, in January 2012, IDC issued a report predicting that regional cloud hubs will significantly change the way that state and local government procure online services.\u00a0\u00a0\tHere\u2019s\u00a0 a section of the IDC predictions:\t\u201cAs a result, this evolution has the potential to trigger the following game-changing consequences: \t-- For the host facility, it can turn a government agency cost center into a revenue center. By selling cloud solutions to other government organizations, host agencies can offset their own IT costs. \t-- Local governments can buy cheaper cloud solutions than they might find on their own and they may be able to reduce capital expenditures and overhead costs. \t-- Cloud services will replace internal client\/server systems as the main model for government application delivery. The race is on to build shared regional datacenters and the largest portfolios of government solutions.\u201d\tAnother example comes from the \u201cCloud Best Practices Network\u201d with their web portal called Govcloud.info. This website offers numerous stories from around the world, case studies, profiles on available services, links to best practices and more.\u00a0\u00a0\tWrap-up Q\/A on the Cloud\tOver the past two months, I\u2019ve received numerous questions and interview requests regarding governments in the cloud. Here\u2019s a summary of some of those interactions:\tAm I all-in regarding the cloud? Not quite. But I do think the ship has sailed and I agree with the recommendations in the report. This is a very helpful report and impressive\u00a0overall\u00a0vendor\u00a0agnostic\u00a0effort.\u00a0Tough questions are answered and not glossed over.\u00a0\tIs there still a level of hype in these reports and cloud\u00a0marketing schemes? Yes, in\u00a0some cases. But again, governments do need to get onboard ASAP and start small and grow their efforts \u2013 probably in a private or hybrid cloud first.\u00a0The future is in the cloud\u00a0computing\u00a0space, along with\u00a0mobile\u00a0(smartphones) and the security therein.\u00a0\tWas I a member of the Government Advisory Board for TechAmerica Foundation\u2019s State & Local Government Cloud Commission? Yes. It was a good experience, and the pros who worked on this commission were top-rate.\tAre\u00a0security issues addressed in the report? Yes, there is a big section on cloud security, privacy and contracting as well as other very important cloud computing topics for government adoption.\tWhat do I disagree with in the report? I like the report and the process that was undertaken. I think TechAmerica and the commissioners did an excellent job overall. I especially like the ongoing aspect of this effort in the creation of a \u201cliving\u201d web portal that will be updated.\tTwo things that I would have changed included the decision to remove of a lot of detail from the final report in order to make it smaller and easier to digest for readers. The marketing people thought there was too much information and it was too long, so many items were pulled out and put into the website. This weakens some parts in my view.\tThe other item was the decision to create another separate web portal and not use an existing state and local government community portal, like NASCIOs portal (or another portal). A problem that I see emerging in the industry is that everyone is creating a new place to go to hang out online, ask questions, interact, read libraries, etc.\tThe issue is that we are creating place to go faster that we can join them, and no one can \u201cengage\u201d in 17+ portal communities effectively. Most people pick 2-3 in their area of expertise at most, in addition to say Facebook and LinkedIn. \u00a0When you add up the Gartner, Forrester, numerous magazine \u201cinsider\u201d portals, association portals, blogs, vlogs, conference follow-up portals, work (Intranet) portals and dozens of other specific portals and websites \u2013 it can become overwhelming. Only time will tell if so many portals can succeed. I suspect not.\tNote: I do see a new business opportunity here to create a \u201ctrusted\u201d portal aggregator \u2013 kind of a \u201cMother of all portals.\u201d We do need trustworthy places to interact online and engage others, but I can\u2019t get my job done and go everywhere. I suspect the ones that will survive will have a strong hook into the real world.\u00a0\u00a0\tAnyway, the Commission\u2019s report is worth reading. Take some time on the website and you will learn quite a bit.\tI\u2019d love to hear your thoughts on the TechAmerica Cloud Commission\u2019s findings.