SAN FRANCISCO — Citrix CEO and President Mark Templeton said the company and IT industry have entered the “cloud era,” which will require a networked fabric of personal, private and public clouds.

“Some say we’ve entered the post-PC era. We don’t think we’re in the post-PC era, we think we’re in the cloud era,” Templeton said Wednesday, May 25, at the company’s user conference, Synergy 2011, in San Francisco.

While the PC era was centered on fixed costs and complexity of services, the cloud era will primarily focus on simplicity and varying costs for those same services, he said.

Cloud computing and virtualization aren’t new concepts in the public sector. However, only a small percentage of state and local governments are early cloud adopters, said Tom Simmons, Citrix’s public sector vice president.

Simmons said public agencies are still half a generation away from moving mission-critical apps into the cloud.

Although a few big cities such as New York City and San Francisco recently announced agreements for cloud computing services, many government agencies are still in the test and development stages.

“What we’re looking at today are the folks that are very confident in their ability to get the job done,” Simmons said. “What we find across public sector is the technology usually races months or years ahead of policy.”

Because governments have a responsibility to protect data, they tend to be more conservative and less likely to adopt a new technology as quickly as the private sector. Once more security policy is implemented around cloud computing, there should be faster adoption in state and local government, Simmons said.

Early adopters of cloud computing will also “lead the pack,” Simmons said, facing the first challenges of adoption. But those cloud adopters will also prove that cloud computing can be implemented successfully, which will encourage other agencies to follow.

“You’ll have the more mainstream folks that don’t want to be the guinea pig,” Simmons said. “They want to try true best practices that they can follow and implement, and you’ll see them come along as the bigger-profile early adopters prove that [cloud computing] works.”

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.