The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released the first two volumes of a draft 'roadmap' for Cloud computing.

The document is designed to speed up Cloud adoption by US federal agencies and bridge the public-private divide regarding the technology.

The government issued its Federal Cloud Computing Strategy in February 2011, which described Cloud computing as a "profound economic and technical shift [with] great potential to reduce the cost of Federal Information Technology (IT) systems while ... improving IT capabilities and stimulating innovation in IT solutions".

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NIST has the unenviable role of defining Cloud standards and collaborate with US government agency CIOs, private sector experts and international agencies to identify and reach consensus on technology and priorities.

Read more about Cloud and as-a-service computing in CIO Australia's Cloud computing category.

The roadmap, U.S. Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap, Release 1.0 (NIST Special Publication 500-293) is aimed at supporting adoption and realising the potential cost savings of Cloud computing.

NIST plans to issue the final roadmap in three volumes.

The first volume, High-Priority Requirements to Further USG Agency Cloud Computing Adoption is a general overview that includes:

prioritised interoperability, portability and security requirements that must be met to further government Cloud adoption;

Standards, guidelines and technology that must be in place to satisfy these requirements

A list of Priority Action Plans recommended for voluntary self-tasking by the Cloud stakeholder community to support standards, guidelines and technology development.

Volume II, Useful Information for Cloud Adopters, is a technical reference that summarises the work completed to date and explains the assessment findings to support the roadmap. Volume III, Technical Considerations for USG Cloud Computing Deployment Decisions, is still under development.

To date, much of the work behind the scenes by NIST has been done by five Cloud computing working groups that were formed in late 2010. The roadmap has already been through a 60-day review exercise through the Federal Cloud Computing Standards and Technology Working Group -- which comes under the sponsorship of the United States Federal CIO Council and includes representatives from some 30 US government agencies.

The document for the roadmap is open for comment until 2 December 2011.