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Oracle has just announced the release of its Government Cloud to give government users access to what Oracle describes as mission critical applications. However, the real benefit here is the agility it offers, not to mention the foothold it gives it in the battle for government contracts.

Government Cloud Computing

The timing of this announcement is interesting. IBM already has its foot in the government door and only recently announced a new US$ 1 billion 10-year contract with the US Department of the Interior to move that Department’s infrastructure to a government-specific cloud. Microsoft is also rumored to be working on a government cloud.

But the race to provide cloud services has been going for a number of years, with Google offering a version of its apps specifically for government as early as 2010. Amazon started offering a government cloud in 2011, while the Acquia cloud earned FISMA accreditation in the middle of last year.

Oracle has also been involved too, with the government cloud platform that it started offering following the RightNow acquisition early in 2012. But this appears to be much farther reaching than anything it has offered to date and will position it as one of the top cloud providers for the government in an increasingly competitive and lucrative market.

A quick look at what Oracle is offering shows that it dovetails nicely with the US Federal Government’s 2010 Cloud First Policy (pdf) that instructed public service services to use cloud computing wherever possible.

Oracle Government Cloud

While the principal aim of the policy was to cut costs, it also pointed to the agility of cloud computing and the ability to respond to changing public needs as another desirable outcome.

Oracle says its new Government Cloud does just this, while also providing secure applications that are accessible only by government organizations.

The solutions that it is making available today includes Oracle Service Cloud, Oracle RightNow Policy Automation and Oracle Learn Cloud, and will streamline government processes covering everything from financial to human resources management, and customer service and project management.

It will also be offering a number of different services options including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) in the near future, while the SaaS element of it will be available straight away.

How the other heavy-weights in the space react remains to be seen, but it will be really interesting to see if Microsoft pulls itself up by the boot-straps and finally gets its rumored government cloud out. Definitely a space to watch.