Federal agencies are aware of the benefits of cloud computing – from information sharing to cost reductions to personnel efficiency – yet many are still in the early stages of deploying it, according to a new survey.
A survey of 223 federal, state and local government employees and contractors included in GovLoop’s latest Agency of the Future Guide found that nearly half (48 percent) are not yet using the cloud but are either exploring how to best leverage it or learning about its benefits. Thirty-eight percent are leveraging the cloud at a basic level, while just 13 percent are relying on it to meet critical agency objectives, the study found.
While the cloud hasn’t yet taken off as a means to accomplish agency goals, most respondents agreed it can yield numerous benefits, including information sharing (78 percent), cost reduction (70 percent), increased efficiency (70 percent), personnel efficiency (57 percent), ease to scale (53 percent) and licensing and software (44 percent).
At the same time, while the cloud concept was well known among respondents, most were unable to distinguish between the various cloud environments. When asked what cloud environments agencies were investing in, most (55 percent) were unsure, while 34 percent selected software as a service (SaaS), 23 percent chose platform as a service (PaaS), and 22 percent said infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
One-quarter of respondents also were unsure of the cloud solution in use at their agency. The most popular cloud solution was private cloud (25 percent), followed by hybrid cloud (13 percent) and public cloud (7 percent).
Meanwhile, the report emphasized how the cloud can help agencies create a more efficient and effective workforce, from facilitating telework and mobile solutions to increasing the availability and accessibility to information.
The report identified four key impacts the cloud will have on the government workforce, including the creation of new methods for training employees as well as increased collaboration among employees and agencies. The cloud also will better facilitate mobile work, enabling access to information anywhere, anytime and on any device, and will help reign in related trends such as big data, analytics and cybersecurity, respondents noted.
Still, while the benefits to cloud are clear, agencies face challenges in adopting a cloud model. These challenges include modifying policy to accommodate use of the cloud, enhancing security capabilities, gathering support from management, and effectively identifying which applications reside on an agency network and if and how they can be migrated to the cloud.
“Government is challenged like never before,” the report states. “In times of deep budget uncertainty and increasing demands for modernization, the cloud holds great promise to cut costs and allow agencies to improve services.”