Professional Services Council: Feds Moving Slowly on Cloud Adoption
A survey by the Professional Services Council finds that, when it comes to cloud adoption, federal agencies are moving much more slowly than expected.
In 2010 the Office of Management and Budget released a 25-point plan [PDF] to reform federal information technology, a sweeping initiative that notably included a focus on a “cloud first” policy.
That plan set the groundwork for agencies to evaluate cloud solutions, create roadmaps, and begin their trek toward greater cloud adoption. With that initial announcement now far in the rearview mirror, has the federal government made good on its ambitious cloud prioritization?
According to a new survey by the Professional Services Council’s Technology Council [PDF], that answer is a resounding “Not yet.”
“With the imperatives to replace aging infrastructure, gain access to new applications, and improve cybersecurity, now more than ever, federal agencies need to realize the benefits of cloud computing,” Dave Wennergren, Professional Services Council (PSC) executive vice president, said in a statement. “However, our PSC CIO Survey this year showed that only 8 percent of federal CIOs felt that they had progressed as far as they wanted to in implementing cloud-based solutions.”
As the report states, the benefits to agencies are clear: Upfront costs are dramatically reduced by the shift to on-demand cloud services, updates can be made much more easily, and partnerships with private cloud companies can keep agencies closer to the cutting edge than ever before.
In an interview with Nextgov, Wennergren cited the narrow, too-specific nature of federal contracts and the gauging of success based on the wrong metrics as two major reasons for the lower-than-expected breadth of cloud adoption. Often, he said, contracts are so specific that they don’t allow companies to develop solutions that are able to address broad problems. What’s more, agencies often “don’t recognize the difference between routine administrative [metrics] and mission-critical stuff,” Wennergren told Nextgov.
Six Steps Toward the Cloud
“In today’s challenging financial times, senior government leaders demand both greater innovation and reduced costs from their IT staffs,” the report states. “Yet, if we don’t take advantage of the contracting flexibilities provided in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), we will not derive the full value of new approaches and technology. “
To aid agencies still moving slowly toward the cloud, PSC, a trade association for companies that serve government agencies, included a six-step guide to commercial cloud transition in the report, covering steps from the initial determination of why the transition is happening in the first place to the continuous learning that ensures agencies continue to improve their cloud networks:
Photo via PSC’s full report, available here.
And despite that meager 8 percent progress figure Wennergren mentioned, PSC did highlight some success stories. Notably, the Department of Veterans Affairs has worked with AT&T Government Solutions to aid healthcare workers and bolster its electronic health-record capabilities, and the General Services Administration is aiming to improve its procurement tools with help from IBM’s cloud infrastructure.