3 reasons the feds are avoiding cloud computing

While businesses are making the move for long-term savings and flexibility, the U.S. government is mired in budget and staffing woes -- and excess desire for control

A New York Times article does a great job defining the issues around cloud adoption within the U.S. government -- or, I should say, the glaring lack thereof. As the Times reports, "Such high praise for new Internet technologies may be common in Silicon Valley, but it is rare in the federal government."

Convenient excuses for skirting cloud computing are easy to find these days; for example, attacks on internal government systems from abroad this spring and summer are easy to recall. In July, the Pentagon said it suffered its largest breach when hackers obtained 24,000 confidential files.

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I suspect that issues such as the recent attacks are going to be more the rule than the exception, so there will always be an excuse not to move to cloud. (I reject the notion that cloud-based systems are fundamentally less secure, by the way.)

It's really how you use security best practices and technology, not so much where the server resides. I'm not suggesting that state secrets go up on Amazon Web Services right now, but almost all of the other information managed by the government is fine for the cloud.

Why the lack of adoption? Once again, the lack of speed in the government's move to the cloud comes down to three factors: money, talent, and control.

No money. Most agencies just don't have the money to move to the cloud at this time. Migration costs are high, and lacking the budget, it's easier for them to maintain systems where they live rather than make the leap to cloud computing. Although the ROI should be readily apparent after a few years, what they lack are "seed" dollars.

No talent. There continues to be a shortage of cloud computing talent in the government and its contractors. There's no experience in moving government IT assets to the cloud, despite what's spun out to the public.

Control. Finally, there's the matter of control. Some IT people define their value around the number of servers they have in the data center. Cloud computing means fewer servers, so they push back using whatever excuses they can find in the tech press, such as security and outages.

I'd really like to see the government solve this one. Because it's workable.

This article, "3 reasons the feds are avoiding cloud computing," 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.

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