Federal agencies like the cloud – but aren’t ready to commit yet

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A new report from government IT network MeriTalk has assessed how federal agencies are keen on the concept of cloud computing, but are reticent to migrate their full IT estate over for the moment.

This is not to say federal firms aren’t completely against the idea, however. Nearly one in five (19%) of the 150 respondents say they deliver more than a quarter of their agency’s IT services through the cloud. The most popular choice to move was email (50%), followed by web hosting (45%) and servers and storage (43%).

Perhaps not surprisingly, finance and accounting applications (33%) were the least likely to be moved over, alongside custom business apps (32%) and disaster recovery tools (31%).

It’s not just a case of wanting to move data over, however. About a third (32%) of agency data cannot be moved to the cloud due to security or data sovereignty issues, according to survey respondents. More than half of respondents (53%) say they are afraid to commit to a long term contract in case it holds their agency back from cloud adoption. The average federal cloud contract is 3.6 years.

What’s more interesting is more than one in five (23%) say they don’t want to give sensitive federal data over to even FedRAMP-certified cloud providers. If they’re unwilling to give data over to officially secure vendors, then who can they give it to?

The most damning statistic, however, is in overall satisfaction. Only 53% of agencies using cloud rate their experience as successful, leaving a lot to be desired.

Yet there’s hope. 67% of those polled who are open to using open source platforms believe data is safer in the cloud than in legacy systems, compared to 43% who aren’t using open source.

“Open source is not only driving much of the technology innovation in cloud, it is also enabling government agencies to answer their questions about cloud portability and integration,” said Mike Byrd, senior director of government channel sales at Red Hat in a statement.

“In this way, it is not surprising to me that the survey respondents who have embraced open source reported greater cloud success,” he added.

Some federal organisations have moved to the cloud with success in recent months, most notably the state of California, after IBM, AT&T and KPMG won the contrast. George Cruser, GM infrastructure for IBM Global Technology Services, told this publication one of the key tenets was for California to have full understanding, rather than just pure outsourcing.

You can read the full report, underwritten by Red Hat and Cisco, here.

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