The technology phenomenon that is cloud computing is one that has spread like wildfire throughout the private sector. However, despite an ever-growing IT establishment, the Federal government has been much more prudent in their shift toward cloud computing. According to many Federal IT professionals, inefficiency, the need for consolidation and pending budget cuts has clearly made cloud computing a solution in dire necessity. The Department of Defense in specific is facing an estimated $178 billion budget cut over the next several years, reforming their IT system is a ploy that could potentially save them nearly $37 billion. Yet despite the potential savings for this department and many similar situations alike, a recent surveyof Federal agencies showed that over 96% of the agencies have less than 1/3 of their IT infrastructure on cloud computing. So why is this the case?
Despite the potential cost saving rewards that come with a movement toward cloud computing in the IT systems of Federal agencies, many obstacles lie in the pathway of this movement. Perhaps none are more prevalent than the apparent lack of knowledge and planning by Federal IT professionals on an actual migration strategy to cloud computing. Nearly all Federal agencies have cloud computing protocols, program measures, and security controls available already. These include programs such as the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), which outlines the baseline security protocols that Federal agencies must follow as they migrate toward the cloud. Yet despite the existence of these programs, surveys show a mere 13% of Federal IT professionals actually understand how to implement cloud computing programs and strategies. The policies for a cloud computing federal IT system are there, however there is no plan or strategy in place to migrate the current system to the cloud system.
The Obama administration has recently placed an emphasis on cloud computing, understanding its potential to shave billions off the Federal budget. Their cloud-first policy initiatives have laid the groundwork to give the federal IT system a push in the cloud computing direction. It will be interesting to see how much of push is needed to break the cement blocks off the feet of the federal cloud computing movement.