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Cloud BPM and The Federal Government s Big Green Machine

Ben Farrell
August 24, 2011

Cloud computing isn't just good for the bottom line; it's also good for the planet -- that's according to the Government Accountability Office. It's tough to reduce the carbon footprint left by an organization's information technology use, and the stakes are higher for federal agencies. The GAO recently released a report that took a critical look at how federal agencies are measuring their efforts to meet goals of cutting energy use. Cloud computing is a primary method. Cloud BPM is an excellent on-ramp for commercial and government organizations looking to develop a solid cloud strategy.

The GAO is telling federal agencies to adopt best practices from the private sector to curb energy consumption, such as "transitioning to thin client computing where the most intensive computer processing is done on a central server instead of employees' desktops." The cloud expands that concept into a true shared services model across agencies.

The barriers to federal cloud computing were lowered even further with Amazon Web Services' recent announcement of the AWS GovCloud (US), which addresses specific regulatory and compliance requirements. Appian's FISMA-certified cloud BPM is available on GovCloud.

Back to the new GAO report. The federal watchdog says most agency plans don't include baseline information, so it's tough to figure out what sort of return on investment you're getting. For instance, if an agency accomplishes a 10 percent reduction in server space, what does that mean for an agency's overall server count? Agencies don't always identify the environmental benefit of their green IT targets, and that's a problem.

Every organization needs measurements. We need to know what we're doing is working, and how well it's working ñ because if it's not working, we need to try something else. Fortunately for most federal agencies, heading into the cloud makes sense in a quantifiable way. And moving business processes to a shared services model across the cloud does double duty. It reduces the carbon footprint now, while enabling even greater reductions in the future.

-Ben Farrell, Director, Corporate Communications