The government is telling Google that its cloud is superior. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has recently announced that its cloud network, code named RACE - Rapid Access Computing Environment - is now open for business. The RACE platform has been online for a year. Up to this point, it has only allowed testing and application development but not production applications.
Unfortunately, the RACE platform is only open to military users, but civilian providers could learn a lot from their military counterparts. RACE claims 99.999 percent availability. Compare that to Google, which claims a mere 99.9 percent. In addition, DISA says that RACE is more secure and stable than Google. DISA cites the recent Google Gmail and News outages as examples. Earlier this year, there were problems with Google App users inadvertently sharing their documents without their knowledge. And DISA employs a full SAS 70 audit and has improved its accreditation process.
Google does offer a government-specific version of its cloud network. Google offers a version of its Google App Suite for government use as well, so Google clearly does want the government business.
DISA uses off-the-shelf technology. Its hardware comprises VMware running on HP blade servers. It can support either Windows or Linux operating systems. Users can specify servers up to four CPUs, 8GB of memory, and up to a terabyte of storage. Who said the government can't be competitive? DISA is charging customers $500 a month for test servers and $1,200 a month for production servers. The price includes onsite support and 24-hour turnaround to set up test environments and 72 hours for production environments.
I think cloud providers can learn from the DISA project. They can offer a secure environment, uptime better than the three 9's Google offers and at a reasonable cost, too.