Technology companies will soon be able to compete to be the provider of California’s first cloud offering designed to serve state and local government agencies, according to Office of Technology Services Director Ron Hughes. In an appearance today on Techleader TV, he said a Request for Proposal (RFP) will hit the streets in about four weeks.

“This is really going to change the way we deliver IT services… It’s not just an issue of cost, it’s giving control back to the consumers,” said Hughes.

Long in the planning stages, the California Technology Agency has already issued two Requests for Information (RFI); the first was investigating proof of concept and cost estimates, and the second was regarding the kind of technology required.

According to Hughes, there were between 20 and 30 responses to the first RFI and 18 responses to the second from the private sector.

“Even the highest cost [estimate] is still a fraction of what the government would have to charge,” Hughes said.

Using the cloud, where computing resources are shared between customers, is cost-efficient since individual customers don’t need to house their own servers and only need to pay for utilization of these resources. However, Hughes mentioned that some of the largest concerns about the cloud are security of the data and possible loss of state jobs.

The state will not lose jobs, but change function from maintaining physical servers as they do now, to programming interfaces for services, as they will when the state switches to cloud services, according to Hughes. The security issue is mitigated by the Office of Technology’s private cloud on the raised floor.

If the RFP has a robust response of private contractors to set up the hardware and operating system for the cloud, Hughes predicted system would be implemented by fall.

A profile on Hughes and the state’s efforts to pursue a cloud computing solution was published in the winter issue of Techwire Magazine.