Dreamforce 2011: Ex-US government CIO to advise Neelie Kroes on cloud strategy for Europe

By Derek du Preez
02 Sep 2011 View Comments
Digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes

Vice president of the Digital Agenda for the European Commission, Neelie Kroes, has said she will be seeking advice on Europe's cloud computing strategy from former US government CIO Vivek Kundra.

Kroes told attendees of a panel discussion at this year's Dreamforce event in San Francisco: "We are hoping to publish Europe's strategy on cloud computing next year and I have asked Vivek to be my advisor on this; he has said yes. My day has been made," said Kroes.

Kundra, who also attended the panel discussion, explained to attendees that during his time in the public sector he came  to realise that governments around the world need to think "cloud first", as countries such as the US, which spends $80bn (£49bn) a year on IT, see "project after project fail because they are based on an old IT model".

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He said: "The old model, which I would call the IT cartel, allows companies to put as many people as possible into a project and bill governments exorbitant rates. We cannot continue like this and need to make sure governments around the world, which all face tough economic circumstances, find the innovative path to serving citizens more effectively," explained Kundra.

He went on to say that, in the past, vendors have bid for government contracts and only been successful because of their expertise in navigating a complicated procurement process. He said their success was not the result of superior technology or innovation.

"You fast-forward a few years and ask what value you have received – and actually there is negative value. The US Department of Defence spent 10 years and $850m (£523m) trying to implement a personnel system, and today there is nothing to show for it. We cannot continue on this path given the tough fiscal environment we are in," said Kundra.

"In the US alone we spend $24bn (£14bn) a year on infrastructure. Where is all that money going? It is being spent on redundant infrastructure and applications," he added.

"It has been said that if the US federal government moved $20bn (£12bn) worth of IT projects to the cloud, it could save $5bn (£3bn) very quickly."

President Obama announced in August that Kundra would be replaced as US CIO by ex-Microsoft chief Steven L VanRoekel. Kundra held the post since early 2009.

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