Government 'box huggers' avoid the cloud for a reason

But many agencies have legitimate struggles to adopt the cloud, which often get short shrift by cloud advocates

Government 'box huggers' avoid the cloud for a reason
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The Cloud Computing Caucus Advisory Group -- a nonprofit that has two U.S. Congressmen as co-chairs -- has released its first report, "Don't Be a Box Hugger," which assesses the state of cloud computing in the federal government.

The report is not unbiased. It was underwritten by Amazon Web Services, Booz Allen Hamilton, Dell, MeriTalk, and Microsoft, so the sponsors have dogs in this hunt. And that bias affects the findings.

The report revealed that government agencies have made some progress in transitioning to the cloud, but not at the pace they should. Indeed, about half of federal IT decision makers are still "uncomfortable" turning over IT to the cloud.

It's not necessarily their fault. My own consulting experience says they are certainly not feeling great about moving government IT assets to the cloud, and they have some old systems that won't move well or should not move to the cloud. Moreover, they have not been getting the funding needed to make the migration, and today's government IT contractors don't have the skills required to guide them to the cloud.

The report put the agencies into three categories: Cloud Pioneers, Fence Sitters, and Box Huggers. The pioneers include those who are consistently looking for new ways to use the cloud, including the Department of Homeland Security, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Department of Defense.

The Fence Sitters are those who are waiting for cloud technology to mature a bit or are reluctant to move to the cloud for some other reason. My favorite group is the Box Huggers, who can't let go of their in-house servers and won't move to the cloud at all.

These categories are hardly unique to the federal government. The number of Global 2000 companies that I consider Box Huggers is still very large. In resisting the cloud, they cite the same reasons as their government counterparts: security, privacy, legal, and control. Most of these issues are not impediments, only unfounded fears.

Labeling organizations as Box Huggers, of course, is not the best approach for helping them move to the cloud. I find it's best to deal with the business or mission and to look at the most cost-effective approaches to solve the organization's problems. In some cases, the cloud is the best approach -- but not always.

Tthose who promote cloud, such as the sponsors of this report, often overlook the notion of fit. You might call them Cloud Huggers.