Data Gives Federal Agencies Pause on Cloud Adoption

Loraine Lawson
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Federal leaders want to like the cloud. They really do.

Then again, they have to — they’re under a cloud first mandate. And yet, they’re still not gung-ho when it comes to actually pursuing adoption, a recent survey shows.

Every year, MeriTalk surveys federal managers about cloud adoption. In the latest survey of 150 federal executives, nearly one in five say one-quarter of their IT services are fully or partially delivered via the cloud.

For the most part, they’re shifting email (50 percent), web hosting (45 percent) and servers/storage (43 percent). They’re not moving traditional business applications, custom business apps, disaster recovery ERP or middleware.

And it seems they’re pretty happy with that so far. This year, 75 percent said they want to migrate more services to the cloud — except they’re worried about retaining control of their data.


Federal agencies are worried about what happens to data in the cloud, assuming they can get it there in the first place:

  • 58 percent of executives fret about cloud-to-legacy system integration as a barrier.
  • 57 percent are worried about migration challenges, suggesting they’re not sure the data can be moved at all.
  • 54 percent are concerned about data portability once the data is in the cloud.
  • 53 percent are worried about “contract lock-in.”

That’s no surprise to Joe McKendrick, a veteran consultant and industry watcher who covered the survey for Forbes.

“Government agencies are well-known for the older systems (some circa 1985) they keep patching up and running — so it’s no surprise that integration issues are hampering cloud efforts,” he said.

In fact, many government agencies consider the cloud only when the legacy technology needs to be modernized or replaced, HS Today reports. But the MeriTalk survey suggests that hesitation on the cloud may go beyond technical concerns.

Cloud Computing

“Many agencies are not laying the ground work for a successful marriage,” the report notes, pointing to a number of steps that federal agencies are NOT taking when it comes to exploring cloud.

It’s telling that the feds who use open source or are at least willing to consider it were significantly more likely to report a positive cloud experience. For instance, 56 percent of open source folks were very satisfied with cloud agility, versus 34 percent of everybody else.

To be honest, I’m not sure what that’s supposed to say about open source use in general — are they applying a correlation or causation? Red Hat and Cisco sponsored the survey, so I’m going to assume it’s supposed to be a good thing.

Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 28, 2015 10:31 AM mark mark  says:
Dear Ms. Lawson, I should sincerely hope they pause on cloud. Let's see, a year or two ago, the UK gov't passed on the cloud, because the cloud providers could not guarantee that UK gov't data would *always* be solely on UK soil. Gov't email, even encrypted, stored in the cloud? Data, including PII data, in the cloud? For that matter, I work for a federal contractor at the NIH, and there's no way I'd allow data with HIPAA and/or PII data on the cloud, unless you want to assert that every single person who has access to all the servers, anywhere, that that data may be stored, or processed, have all had their US gov't clearance, and their annual HIPAA and PII security refreshers, as we are *required* to as a condition of employment. Certainly, I wouldn't want some jerks like the Lizard Squad thinking it was amusing to access my health records, and posting them, which could result in an employer down the road, doing a search on me, finding that, and deciding not to hire me to keep their health insurance costs down.... mark roth Silver Spring, MD Reply

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