The MOVE IT Act and Cloud Infrastructure Act offer the public sector an opportunity to be more efficient, agile, and innovative through effective IT investments. With these initiatives in place, agencies are turning to the engine that powers government IT systems – the cloud.
Gartner (News - Alert) estimates that cloud adopters will spend $240 billion of the world’s IT budget on cloud computing in 2017. And, according to a new report from MeriTalk, underwritten by NetApp and Avnet Government Solutions, federal, state, and local government agencies as well as higher education institutions agree with plans to increase cloud spending by 82 percent by 2017. Agencies and institutions are putting the pedal to the metal – 55 percent of respondents are evaluating cloud solutions as part of their overall IT strategy – 55 percent federal, 48 percent state and local, and 60 percent higher education.
What’s fueling the transition? Cloud adopters agree that cost savings and flexibility are the primary drivers, and they are already seeing huge returns on their investments. According to the report, cloud adopters found that moving applications to the cloud has increased productivity, customer service, and cost savings. The report also found that public sector cloud adopters are most commonly using the cloud for web hosting (81 percent), collaboration (81 percent), and email applications (79 percent). But there is still some serious ground to cover.
“Public sector adopters want to take advantage of the cloud, but they must balance this with rigid regulations and budget constraints – leaving little flexibility to respond to evolving mission demands,” said Rob Stein, vice president for the U.S. public sector at NetApp, a global provider of software, systems, and services to manage and store data. “They need solutions that offer the data management capabilities, performance, and investment protection that makes it easier for them to bridge existing and emerging IT architectures.”
While cloud adopters run 35 percent of their IT applications in the cloud, many aren’t ready to go on cruise control – 58 percent of applications are being run in private cloud vs. public cloud (26 percent) and hybrid cloud (16 percent). Additionally, 89 percent of IT managers see benefits to selecting public cloud offerings, but 95 percent see drawbacks. Feds still have whiplash from recent cyber attacks – 68 percent have privacy and security concerns compared to state and local (52 percent) and higher education (55 percent).
So how do agencies and institutions determine the best route? And what applications do they bring along for the ride? Cloud adopters are committed to improving the way their agencies and institutions purchase, build, and deliver cloud solutions, but they need help. Public sector cloud adopters report that email and backup services are still in need of updating before they can be fully moved to the cloud, but few are taking the necessary steps.
Before migrating systems to the cloud, agencies and institutions need to identify and mitigate risk (57 percent), develop a migration strategy (56 percent), and prioritize applications for migration (52 percent). But less than half of respondents assess the required computing, network, and/or storage needs; develop a cost model; or prepare the workforce for the transition, according to the report. You can’t go on a road trip on an empty tank.
“Cloud adopters are working to understand the rules of the road and need roadside assistance,” said Milo Speranzo, director strategy and compliance at Avnet Government Solutions, a technology distributor with public sector markets expertise. “To get in the fast lane to real cost savings, cloud adopters need clear migration strategies, appropriate cost models, and to prioritize the most critical cloud-ready apps.”
Detours are inevitable, and roadblocks unavoidable, but to unlock the real benefits of the cloud, public sector cloud adopters need to shift into high gear.
Steve O’Keeffe is founder of MeriTalk.
Edited by Alicia Young