The U.S. government has been slowly making a migration to the cloud since the Cloud First policy was instated in 2011, but the going has been tough and there has been a certain amount of resistance to making such drastic changes. Congress is trying to speed up the process and encourage cloud migration with a new report courtesy of the Congressional Cloud Computing Caucus.
Led by Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia, the “Don’t Be a Box Hugger” report provides a comprehensive overview of the federal government’s migration to the cloud and offers insight into the future path for transformation. What is clear is that the Feds are no longer content to sit on the sidelines and are attempting to catch up with private-sector companies when it comes to cloud adoption.
The proposed 2016 budget from President Obama allocates $7.34 billion of the $86.4 billion overall federal IT budget, a mere 8.5 percent, for provisioned services like the cloud. While a fraction of the Feds’ total IT spending, the amount is significant and would place the government on par with the private sector when it comes to cloud services adoption.
One of the main tenets of the report is that a majority of federal agencies are “fence sitters,” having moved their email systems to the cloud but exercising extreme caution when it comes to making a larger transition. Standout agencies include ATFE, Commerce, DoD, EPA, FCC (News - Alert), GSA, HHS, NASA, NRC and USDA, which have all done considerably more in terms of embracing the cloud. There is also, not surprisingly, a resistance group that the caucus refers to as “box huggers,” consisting of anti-cloud agencies that are adamant about owning their own hardware and software along with the associated headaches that go with that responsibility.
Security, cultural barriers and ROI justification are the largest barriers to cloud adoption according to the caucus, much like in the private sector. The report did find that the FedRAMP cloud security standards initiative has been successful in certifying commercial and government CSP (News - Alert) offerings and providing options and peace of mind for agencies interested in migrating. Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to migrate to the cloud singled out in the report is the approximately $18.9 billion in annual savings the Feds could realize.
The report ultimately recommends that deadlines for cloud migration should be better enforced and the Feds should encourage more transparency when it comes to actual cloud spending. More funding is also being recommended for the FedRAMP program along with incentives and rewards for those groups and agencies that embrace cloud migration. Ultimately, agencies need to figure out how cloud solutions fit into their own planning and specifically how they can help them save money, improve services and increase the overall effectiveness of their goals.