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The Road Ahead: Three Years After Cloud First
For three years, federal agencies have been required to move existing and new Information Technology (IT) services to cloud computing platforms through the Cloud First Policy and Digital Government Strategy. For a variety of reasons, from budgetary to operational, cloud environments offer significant advantages over legacy systems. Despite these advantages, agencies have been slow in moving to the cloud and progress has been inconsistent.
Accenture Federal Services and the Government Business Council (GBC) launched a survey to determine the progress and challenges federal agencies face in complying with cloud mandates in order to identify best practices for implementing cloud computing in federal agencies.
To assess the perceptions, attitudes, and experiences of federal executives regarding cloud services, GBC surveyed a random sample of online magazine subscribers in July 2013.
A total of 286 respondents, including those from the GS-11 through GS-15 and Senior Executive Services (SES) grade levels in defense and civilian agencies, completed the survey in full. Twenty-six agencies are represented in this analysis. Respondents hold positions in numerous occupational areas, from operations to information technology management.
According to the survey, agencies struggle to develop and implement cloud adoption strategies. Cloud adoption is a difficult undertaking, and despite three years of mandates, agencies have yet to move a substantial portion of their IT portfolios to the cloud. Fewer than half of respondents have moved more than 10 percent of their IT portfolio to the cloud.
Cost savings and budget reductions are the primary drivers behind cloud adoption. In the move to the cloud, the survey showed that agencies are largely motivated by cost savings and budget reductions. However, when assessing the benefits of cloud computing technologies, respondents ranked security as most valuable.
Staffing and procurement are the two biggest identified challenges to cloud adoption. Fewer than one third of respondents believe their agency has the necessary staff to execute its cloud strategy. Additionally, more than one third of managers feel the length of the procurement process hinders cloud adoption at their agency.
Security and cost are the two main considerations for cloud adoption. While the cloud has numerous business advantages such as flexibility, rapid deployment and increase capabilities, the security of sensitive information and cost remain the two most important considerations agencies identified when procuring cloud systems.
Agencies must overcome staffing challenges. Respondents note both a lack of training and understaffing as major issue for cloud adoption. While cloud services are managed by a provider, short-staffed agencies will still find it difficult to execute a cloud strategy, according to the survey results.
Cloud brokerages show potential, but most managers have yet to decide how best to use this option for securing cloud technology. The procurement process is another challenge to cloud adoption. Cloud brokerages provide a potential option to improve the process, but their success will hinge on their ability to realize cost reduction, streamlined procurement, and improved security compliance.
January 9, 2014
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