Why 18F built it
cloud.gov enables product teams to deploy cloud-based products with baseline security and scalability concerns addressed consistently, right up front, without scaling the number of cloud operations experts working on products.
18F, a digital services delivery group within the General Services Administration, was founded in 2014. As 18F scaled up the number of teams deploying new products at any given time, it became clear that cloud operations could be a bottleneck. There is a long list of good practices for government digital services introduced by law and federal agency requirements, but there is no accompanying tooling support for implementers.
To solve the bottleneck problem, 18F focused on technical operations that could act as force-multipliers for each team, enabling our cloud ops staffers to focus on solving new problems. cloud.gov emerged from this focus and is now a product available to other government agencies.
Our experience with this project suggests an open source PaaS is the right choice for many government teams. However, vendor PaaS options offer features which may be attractive to agencies that have different requirements.