Washington D.C. – Today the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation held a hearing to examine the potential opportunities and challenges associated with cloud computing, and to assess the appropriate role of the Federal Government in the cloud computing enterprise.

“Over the last few decades, developments in the IT sector have driven our country’s economic growth,” noted Subcommittee Chairman Ben Quayle (R-AZ).  “Cloud computing has the potential to be the next wave.  Its widespread adoption offers significant opportunities for new innovation, and productivity gains for both the public and private sectors.”

The hearing focused on innovation and efficiency opportunities associated with cloud computing, challenges restraining the widespread adoption of cloud computing, and federal cloud computing adoption initiatives.

Testifying today on the many benefits of advancing cloud computing, Mr. Michael Capellas, Chairman and CEO of Virtual Computing Environment Company said, “In a time when the government is seeking to do more with less and the commercial sector is being called upon to create jobs and grow the economy, now is the time to act on the cloud.”  Mr. Capellas continued, “Cloud computing has ushered in vast improvements in the cost, agility and efficiency of computing. These benefits alone drive a strong business case; however, the more compelling return is the opportunity to leap forward; to discover new markets and improve how we interact with, serve, and support U.S. citizens, users and other nations.”

While supportive of advancing cloud computing, Chairman Quayle noted that there are still barriers. “While the benefits of cloud computing are vast, there are a range of challenges that will need to be addressed before its potential is fully realized,” he said.  “Cybersecurity is a major concern for many users who are considering moving their computing functions to the cloud. Users must have confidence that their data and applications will be secure and that their privacy will be protected.  Further, cloud service providers will need to offer users different tiers of security depending on sensitivity of their data.”

In response to such concerns, Mr. Nick Combs, Federal Chief Technology Officer of EMC Corporation said, “Security must be risk-based and driven by flexible policy that is aligned to the business or mission need.  The need for a common framework to ensure that security policies are consistently applied across the infrastructure is critical to success.”

Echoing these recommendations, Dr. Dan Reed, Corporate Vice President of the Technology Policy Group at Microsoft, also advocated flexibility.  “The best approach in a time of rapid technological change is to establish policy goals and a flexible framework for achieving them, and to avoid focus on specific technological approaches that could chill innovation or quickly become outmoded,” Dr. Reed said.

In order to stay at the forefront of cloud innovation, witnesses also highlighted the need for open and flexible standards that will help provide interoperability and data portability within the cloud.  The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is spearheading stakeholder efforts to develop data security and interoperability standards.

The following witnesses testified today before the Subcommittee:

Mr. Michael Capellas, Chairman and CEO, Virtual Computing Environment Company

Dr. Dan Reed, Corporate Vice President, Technology Policy Group, Microsoft Corporation

Mr. Nick Combs, Federal Chief Technology Officer, EMC Corporation

Dr. David McClure, Associate Administrator, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, General Services Administration