Hawaii creates ‘cloud first’ policy

Hawaii state officials are requiring all state departments to use the state's private government cloud on all new IT projects and many existing ones.

Hawaii has established a “cloud first” policy for all new information technology projects across all state government departments. The policy will push state agencies to host their new projects in the Hawaii Government Private Cloud, as well as to migrate existing applications whenever possible.

“Hawaii is among the first states in the nation to implement a ‘cloud first’ policy for IT projects,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige said in a statement, although the state is hardly alone.

Twenty percent of American states are now “highly invested in cloud-based services,” according to a survey released in September by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers. And nearly three-quarters of the states say they already have some applications in the public cloud and are considering migrating other applications.

Ige nevertheless emphasized the new policy “is core to Hawaii’s cloud computing and IT consolidation initiatives and will help our state conduct business in a more modern and efficient, business-like way.”


State agencies in Hawaii have been asked to develop a formal plan on how they can use Hawaii’s Government Private Cloud, or GPC, for their existing and future applications, while engaging the Office of Information Management and Technology Hawaii GPC Project Team to support planning efforts and begin documentation requirements. These plans are due by March of next year.

The Hawaii GPC Project Team developed and launched the secure state governmentwide private cloud as part of Hawaii’s technology transformation plan. Having reached initial operating functionality, the Hawaii GPC offers infrastructure as a service to all state entities and will address relevant statutory and policy requirements associated with state IT systems, including information security and privacy along with federal compliance mandates.

For example, the Hawaii GPC will improve the state’s risk assessment in relation to disaster recovering, since applications and data on the cloud are less susceptible to site-specific incidents, whether natural or man-made.

Vivek Kundra, the former chief technology officer for Washington, D.C., coined the first public sector “cloud first” policy when he worked as the CIO for the federal government back in 2010.

Since that time, state governments have been adopting similar policies after seeing the effect of Kundra’s program in the federal government. Colorado, for instance, established a cloud first policy several years ago based on Kundra’s plan for the federal government.


Hawaii has spent the past three years undergoing a dramatic technology transformation project, moving the state’s technology from the dark ages to a more modern and innovative system. The move to a cloud first policy is the latest step made possible by those transformative efforts.

The Hawaii Government Private Cloud was made possible through a $5.3 million investment made earlier this year by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie as part of a number of capital investments made across the state.

The Hawaii GPC said it would continue to expand and improve functionality through fiscal year 2015.

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