Survey: Federal IT Agencies Need Better Cloud Data Management

Loraine Lawson
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How the Cloud Is Changing the Way We Work

MeriTalk surveyed federal government IT professionals about their use of cloud computing. It turns out 89 percent out of 153 surveyed expressed “some apprehension about losing control of their IT services,” according to MeriTalk.

Yes, well, after reading what the survey says about their data integration, management and governance, I’m 95 to 96 percent uncomfortable with their management of cloud data.

Honestly, it’s not that the findings are so dismal, but rather, that they’re so mediocre. Call me crazy, but I’m just not comfortable with less than half (44 percent, to be precise) saying their organizations have mature data governance practices in the cloud.

The details on that aren’t a lot better, with the survey results showing:

  • 61 percent do not have quality, documented metadata.
  • 52 percent do not have well understood data integration processes.
  • 50 percent have not identified data owners.
  • 49 percent do not have known systems of record.


I will say this: The survey focused on IT management. From my own experience with government agencies, I’m hoping that somewhere, a developer or DBA knows all of this stuff but maybe the manager never asked, or doesn’t remember. Yeah, that makes me feel better. Let’s go with that.

Overall, respondents did not express confidence about the success of their data governance and management efforts, with 41 percent saying their data integration management efforts were some degree of “not successful.” This lead MeriTalk to conclude, “Data integration and remediation need work.”

Clearly, organizations need to get it together when it comes to the cloud and data governance, integration and management. They need to do this because these agencies have a duty to do so, IMHO. However, it turns out it would also help their well-being: “Those actively improving their data governance programs are more likely to say they are comfortable turning their IT services over to cloud vendors,” the report found.

There is a bit of good news, in that 56 percent say their agency is “in the process of” implementing data stewardship or a more formal data governance program for their cloud services and vendors.”

The survey also includes findings related to security and compliance efforts. You can download the free report if you’d like to examine those results in more depth, but I will warn you now, it’s not comforting. For instance, only one in five IT pros is completely confident in their cloud vendor’s security.

The problems with cloud data management and security share a common source: Federal agencies aren’t working closely with vendors to resolve problems. That could be because these solutions have come on-board on an ad hoc basis via the lines of business, but cause wasn’t examined.

Regardless of why it happened, MeriTalk recommends federal agencies fix it now. “Work closely with cloud vendors to define data management processes and responsibilities, while partnering on security,” the report advises.

It also recommends federal IT leaders:

  • Embrace data governance by documenting metadata, defining integration processes and clearly identifying data owners.
  • Adopt new tools and partners as a path to improving data management.

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.

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