Vivek Kundra, former CIO to the US government, has accepted a position as an advisor to European digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes.
Kroes announced the news during a panel discussion at Salesforce.com’s user conference in San Francisco. "I asked Vivek to be my advisor, and he said yes, so my day is made," Kroes said.
Kundra, who was the US government’s first CIO but has left to join the faculty at Harvard University, will advise Kroes specifically on cloud security, helping the European Commission with its plan to improve cross border online commerce.
Speaking on the panel, Kundra rubbished security concerns surrounding cloud computing for government, calling them "ridiculous" in light of the roughly 4,700 IT outsourcing agreements the US government already has with the likes of Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop-Grummann.
"When it comes to cloud, for some reason, these fears are raised," Kundra said. "The government’s contracts are designed to make sure those provisions are taken care of."
He discussed the US government’s transition to cloud computing, and said that lack of funds would drive government departments away from expensive IT projects in the future.
"There is going to be intense downwards pressure as a result of budgets that are going to be cut," Kundra said. "Agencies across the board are being forced to zero out [decrease to nothing] their capital expenditure, so how do you innovate through operational expenditure?"
Neelie Kroes called cloud computing a new way of living, saying that people were willing to move to the new model, but only when they trusted the providers. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said that trust was a synthetic word for him, embodying a combination of security, privacy and transparency.
The panel also discussed the role of social media in making corporations and governments transparent. Benioff predicted a "Corporate Spring", mirroring the recent and ongoing social unrest in the Middle East, in which disgruntled employees or customers overturn traditional corporate management structures, informed through social media.