7 Challenges Federal Agencies Face in Cloud Services

cloud servicesDespite the federal “Cloud First” mandate, federal agencies are slow to adopt cloud services solutions, according to a recent Accenture Federal Services and Government Business Council report.  Only 10% of agencies have migrated more than one-half of their IT portfolios to the cloud.

The report, “The Road Ahead: 3 Years After Cloud First,” assessed the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of 286 federal executives regarding cloud services and found:

  • 85% feel security is still seen as a key barrier to cloud services adoption
  • 69% said the main inhibitors to cloud adoption include lack of necessary staffing
  • 45% said that training is necessary to develop or hire new personnel with the needed skills, estimating the cost of such training to be between $25,000 and $50,000
  • 31% said that the reason why agencies have not adopted cloud services sooner is because of lengthy procurement processes
  • 30% claim to be implementing cloud strategies
  • 4% of agencies are building out new (mostly private) cloud platforms

The 2011 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy known as “Cloud First,” issued by the Office of Management and Budgets (OMB), aims to provide on-demand access to a shared pool of computing resources; can be provisioned on a scalable basis; and reportedly has the potential to deliver services faster, more efficiently and at a lower cost than custom-developed systems.

In the report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified seven common challenges associated with implementation of the OMB’s “Cloud First” policy:

  • Meeting federal security requirements
  • Obtaining guidance
  • Acquiring knowledge and expertise
  • Certifying and accrediting vendors’ systems and solutions
  • Ensuring data portability and interoperability
  • Overcoming cultural barriers
  • Procuring services on an on-demand basis

Despite the challenges, federal agencies have made progress toward implementing “Cloud First,” and federal executives see the benefits of cloud adoption. They listed better data security, bigger storage capacity and reduced IT costs as their top three benefits.


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