It is time to revisit spending nearly all funding on legacy environments, and truly appreciate and benefit from the innovation and value that moving to the cloud can bring.
Anne Altman is general manager at IBM Federal
In Washington, talk of the cloud is everywhere – articles, advertisements, speeches, interviews, events big and small – but when you look beyond the hype, how much cloud does the federal government have?
As we close out the federal government’s 2015 fiscal year, IDC estimates 6 percent of government systems run in the cloud – so after all the hype, 94 percent of systems don’t touch the cloud. This is in line with spending as IDC estimated in September 2014 that only 5 percent of all federal IT spending was dedicated to cloud.
While the regular season commences for many fall sports, we’re in a long pre-season when it comes to cloud in the federal government.
There are successes and the federal government has taken steps to speed cloud adoption further – beyond a focus on cost savings alone and moving to the innovations that cloud enables. The Interior Department, for example, just re-launched its website, DOI.gov, using an open source content management platform-as-a-service on a public Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program-compliant cloud. Sure, cost savings are part of the strategy, but even more important, the Interior Department can more easily incorporate new apps and mobile capabilities.
For many, hybrid clouds represent the “go-to” pragmatic approach as agencies focus on migrating applications to the cloud – especially those that engage citizens directly – while integrating them with private clouds and/or back office systems that need to remain on premise.
The U.S. Army is a good example of this approach. For one of the government’s largest logistics systems, the Army is linking cloud to an on-premise environment that will help enable the broad use of data analytics for sharper insights and result in improved performance, enterprise scale, better security and greater reliability.
More agencies also are embracing platform-as-a-service to build innovative apps in the cloud, using agile methods for speedier delivery of new services to their employees and citizens. This past April, NASA used PaaS for its Space Apps Challenge where developers built apps focused on contributing to space exploration and solving global challenges.
This year, the government took steps to evolve and improve the FedRAMP process. According to @FedRAMP, in the last six months, the program has saved the government $70 million and increased cloud usage by 41 percent. FedRAMP is now working on ways to speed up the authorization process by automating many of the reviews. The Defense Department and the General Services Administration are collaborating on creating a new contract vehicle. These enhancements to the authorization and contracting processes are critical as the Obama administration's proposed fiscal 2016 budget estimates that about $7.3 billion will be spent on cloud computing.
On Oct. 1, a new fiscal year begins and with it cloud will play an increasingly larger role in the innovation plans across government. It is time to end the pre-season practicing, let the regular season begin, revisit spending nearly all funding on legacy environments, and truly appreciate and benefit from the innovation and value that moving to the cloud can bring.
(Image via belekekin/ Shutterstock.com)