Remember the federal government's "cloud first" policy? A year ago, the Washington Post reported, "The [General Services Administration, the main procurement agency] is the first federal agency to make the Internet switch, and its decision follows the Office of Management and Budget's declaration last month that the government is now operating under a 'cloud-first' policy, meaning agencies must give priority to Web-based applications and services."
Almost a year later, we're still waiting for cloud computing to show up in most government agencies. There are many reasons for the slow adoption of cloud computing in the federal government: the huge size of government IT, the long procurement cycles, and the lack of cloud computing talent in both government IT and its array of contractors.
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Another issue is pushback from multiple entities against the use of cloud computing, including Congress questioning the "cloud first" policy. Congress is looking at the potential security risks of cloud computing. However, government IT and government contractors are relatively sure they can maintain enterprise security as the government looks to migrate to the cloud.
The backstory is not surprising to most in government IT. The policy does not have the teeth it needs to drive the change required for many federal agencies to get to cloud computing. Although the policy tells agencies that the economic savings from cloud computing is their incentive for adoption, those agencies need upfront funding to get moving in the right direction. That money is currently lacking.
Moreover, the government agencies need to think differently as to how they do IT going forward -- and that seems to be the largest hurdle. In the current federal approach to IT, sharing is not encouraged, but ownership of infrastructure and applications is. Thus, the number of data centers built and maintained by the government has exploded in recent years, as new requirements led to new systems, which led to more racks.
The solution to this problem takes three steps:
- Provide funding. You can't get to the value without change, and change costs money.
- Work on changing the cultures in government IT. Perhaps this is an impossible task, but if the cultures of server ownership and IT fiefdoms don't fall by the wayside, cloud computing won't have much of a chance.
- Set and hold to deadlines. There are cloud mandates in place now; make sure they are enforced.
This article, "How to revive the feds' lifeless 'cloud first' policy," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.