By Richard Arneson
Just so you don’t have to wait for the obvious, let’s just go ahead and get it out of the way─yes, security is the biggest issue for government agencies moving to the cloud. But it hasn’t deterred half of them, according to a year-old Gartner study that states fifty percent (50%) of all government organizations utilize cloud services. Now─eighteen (18) months later─it’s assuredly higher, but we’ll have to wait on their next study for that answer.
Based on our everyday, garden-variety, government-related experiences, it’s easy to assume that government deployments, with the exception of those related to the military or national security, of course, are a little antiquated. Let your mind wander and bring into focus those times you’ve forlornly trudged into the post office, DMV or DPS. It feels like walking back in time. You expect to see signs selling war bonds. Sure, there have been a few updates here and there (you can now pay for auto registrations with a credit card!), but, basically, the processes are not that different than they were thirty (30) years ago. Based on these more frequent interactions with government agencies, it may come as a surprise to learn that, technologically-speaking, they’re definitely not decades behind enterprises, both public and private. In fact, while companies across all industries spend an average of 20.4% of their total IT budget on the cloud, governments, including local, state and federal, clock in a 21.3%.
While security is the top concern, government organizations cite the top two (2) cloud adoption drivers as cost savings and the ability to deliver services more efficiently. Savings and efficiency—sounds about right.
Which cloud are they adopting?
While government cloud adoption is healthy, the three (3) issues throttling it back are security, as previously mentioned, concerns about being locked into a singular vendor, and a lack of the key features they need. This is the reason Gartner opines that the implementation of private clouds by governments will be twice that of public clouds. It’s ironic, government want more features, but are implementing private clouds that inhibit those features associated with public clouds, including functionality, scalability and cost savings. Again, it’s all about security.
Actually, much of what governments consider a private cloud is actually closer to advanced virtualization or an outsourced infrastructure. While both can work perfectly for running particular workloads, they aren’t technically private clouds. Here’s what governments need to know—the benefits gap between the private clouds and public clouds is widening. Another Gartner survey revealed that less than five percent (5%) of what government entities considered a private cloud actually possessed multiple cloud characteristics. That figure makes you wonder if many government IT departments want to say they’re running in a cloud environment, but without actually doing so, at least in a meaningful way. And a poor cloud implementation will likely result in disgruntled users and surly executives. So, ultimately, they’re frustrating users while also failing to achieve and enjoy many, if not most of, the cloud benefits.
Where is the data stored?
Data sovereignty. It will always be important for government entities, whether they like it or not. Data sovereignty simply refers to collected data that is subject to the laws of the country in which it’s collected. Governments are uneasy about storing data outside their borders, which is a concern many agencies share. Recently the Australian government cancelled their cloud contact upon discovering the vendor was processing government data in an offshore cloud. The UK contracted with a cloud provider, but refused to implement its service until the provider had built a local site. Again, security prevails.
Governments, especially local ones, are probably better positioned to take advantage of the cloud than many enterprises. Budgets are repeatedly cut, which certainly makes cost savings an enticing element. But, regardless, those implementing government clouds must consider, in addition to its unique technical, organizational and procedural structures, the regulatory issues that will always sit atop the list of concerns.
Moving to the cloud? It all starts with Expertise―then an Assessment
Migrating to the cloud is a big move; it might be the biggest move of your IT career. If you don’t have the right cloud skill sets, expertise and experience on staff, you may soon be wondering if the cloud is all it’s cracked up to be.
That’s why turning to experienced Cloud experts like those at GDT can help make your cloud dreams a reality. They hold the highest cloud certifications in the industry and are experienced delivering solutions from GDT’s key cloud partners―AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. They can be reached at CloudTeam@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.