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Have a 'No Cloud' Policy? Here's Why That's Old Fashioned

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Gartner’s latest cloud computing research is getting many mentions between sessions at Amazon Web Services’ re: Invent conference in Las Vegas.

Linked above, Gartner says by 2020, “a corporate ‘no cloud’ policy will be as rare as a ‘no internet’ policy today." In other words, no business will operate without cloud computing.

The report argues that cloud-first policies—and even cloud-only policies—are quickly becoming the norm as businesses look to exploit the savings inherent in renting computing space versus standing up their own.

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"Aside from the fact that many organizations with a no-cloud policy actually have some under-the-radar or unavoidable cloud usage, we believe that this position will become increasingly untenable," said Jeffrey Mann, research vice president at Gartner. "Cloud will increasingly be the default option for software deployment. The same is true for custom software, which increasingly is designed for some variation of public or private cloud."

The federal government, however, threatens to be left behind.

The Obama administration’s fiscal 2016 budget allocates about $7.3 billion, or 8.2 percent of its federal IT budget, for provisioned services like cloud computing. And while cloud service providers like AWS and others have made inroads in many federal agencies, billions in potential savings remain on the table. A report from the Government Accountability Office suggests closing a chunk of the government’s 11,000 data centers ought to save agencies in the realm of $8 billion.

Toby Williams, chief product and strategy officer at higher-education software provider Ellucian, said Wednesday higher-education and research institutions face a similar dilemma. Much of their information is locked away.

Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, echoed the same sentiment, noting that much of the world’s scientific data—information that could be used to develop cures for diseases, for example—is stored away in old government systems.

While the private sector pivots to cloud in a big way, the public sector and academic institutions cling to legacy technology, siloed databases and ancient enterprise architecture. If they don’t get it together, Gartner’s research suggests they may get left behind.

Correction: This article was updated to show Toby Williams gave Ellucian's presentation.

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