The United States government is no stranger to the cloud at this point. In early 2011, federal CIO Vivek Kundra installed the "cloud first" policy to help usher new cloud computing strategies into the public sector en masse. As a result, it is now required that agencies default to the cloud whenever it is "secure, reliable, [and] cost effective."
InformationWeek recently released its third Federal Cloud Computing Survey, polling the opinions of 103 federal IT professionals. Thus far, the report shows that more than half have identified a use for the cloud and 46 percent have evaluated cloud vendors in detail.
InformationWeek's study also shows 50 percent of all responding agencies are moving ahead with adoption of the cloud or in the process of doing so. For last year's report, this number was at 40 percent, so there has been a fairly dramatic increase since last year.
"Of those agencies using or assessing cloud services, 18 percent are using public clouds and 14 percent are using private clouds," the report said. "But demand is building for private clouds, with 39 percent of these respondents indicating they're highly likely to adopt them."
The main reasons for adopting cloud computing solutions by these federal agencies have been lowering the cost of IT operations and reducing the reliance on data centers – at 54 percent and 51 percent, respectively. Fifty-one percent of the professionals interviewed said their agencies have discovered unique financial advantages after conducting in-depth cost-benefit analyses.
Even with all of the positivity, cloud security remains a concern for these professionals. InformationWeek said this is really no shock, as the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, hasn't had a big impact yet, with only 11 percent of respondents starting to use the process which is trying to verify each cloud vendor's security level. This will likely grow in the next couple of years as more CIOs start to move into the cloud and see the need for security guidance.
One of the bigger adoptions of cloud computing by the government will be a test for the security level of the cloud. The U.S. General Services Administration announced that it started offering cloud based email services to save money. The agency said by adopting this solution, they will be able to lower the cost of email by 50 percent and save $1 million for every 7,500 inbox migrations.
“GSA has added another excellent option for agencies looking to rapidly move their email to the cloud to save time, resources and taxpayer dollars,” said Mary Davie, Acting Commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, according to the agency's website. “Our innovative cloud solutions are another example of how GSA offers the best value, low cost services that help agencies serve the American people.”
If there is a problem in the implementation of the cloud, Computerworld said that may snowball into other things and create some hardships. There can also be resistance to change on a government level, which Andrea Di Maio, an analyst specializing in public-sector issues at Gartner, said can depend on how mature the company or agency is adopting the cloud.
John Letchford, CIO of the state of Massachusetts, told the website that he thought implementing cloud-based email would be easy, but said they had a lot of problems with their implementation and said the amount of regulations the state found it had to abide by after adopting the cloud made things very difficult. Government agencies, much like companies, need to make sure they have all of their ducks in a row when it comes to cloud computing compliance and security before adoption.
Cloud Computing News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro.