Just Because They’re Talking About It, Doesn’t Mean They’re Buying It… Yet

tim larkins small pic. 67x84 by Tim Larkins, Senior Manager, Market Intelligence

The Department of Defense released its 44 page Cloud Computing Strategy on July 12 amid growing concerns that government agencies are failing to provide specifics about important elements of cloud migration.

DoD CIO Terri Takai outlined four major steps that will enable a phased implementation of the DoD cloud environment:

  1. Foster Adoption of Cloud Computing
  2. Optimize DataCenter Consolidation
  3. Establish the DoD Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure
  4. Deliver Cloud Services

Takai admits that DoD has tolerated “duplicative, costly, and complex IT infrastructures” that have become “largely inefficient, costing time and money that could be applied directly towards achieving strategic initiatives” for too long.  The timeline to deliver initial program capability is over seven years, once funding is approved.  Long term, this is good news for product vendors. As DoD decision makers understand that to realize cloud based efficiencies, COTS products are a necessity – without them, the agency will fail to achieve a joint enterprise cloud computing governance structure.  But as I’ve noted in previous statements and blog posts, the need for patience in this market is ever growing because the role of emerging technologies, like cloud, is in large part undefined and poorly governed.

The release of DoD’s Cloud Computing Strategy arrives on the heels of a July 11 press release indicating that DISA will serve as DoD’s Enterprise Cloud Service Broker – requiring DoD agencies obtain all cloud functions through DISA.  Concurrently on the civilian side, GSA is also considering the development of cloud computing brokers to assist civilian agencies with procurement of cloud services in less time with higher value.

Although recent outreach to industry is an encouraging sign of things to come for product manufacturers, agencies may not be as ready to adopt cloud technologies as they lead on.  A recent GAO survey reported that 19 of 20 agencies that plan to make investments in cloud technologies have thus far failed to address a number of key issues – including making cost estimates, outlining plans to retire legacy systems, or establishing basic performance goals and milestones.

Multiple agencies that planned to have at least three services functioning in the cloud by the end of 2012 have missed milestones entirely.  As it stands, the Feds have adopted cloud solutions slower than any of us expected.  The 18 month milestone for OMB’s 25 Point Plan came and went in June, with nary a detailed report surfacing from Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel.  In his blog, VanRoekel did point out that headway has been made in pushing a shared services strategy, and data center consolidation efforts have been successful.  However, specifics around the Cloud First policy and adoption of cloud services were nowhere to be found.

The problem, it would seem, is that adopting cloud technologies is more time and money intensive than initially thought.  According to GAO, moving to cloud computing requires guidance on purchasing and controls around security (neither of which exist in any sufficient capacity). And, certifying cloud vendors has proven to be a laborious task for which the government has yet to develop a knack.  The point I am getting to, is while cloud continues to the buzzword of the day, and adopting cloud services is on everyone’s lips in the government, we have yet to see any significant amount of investment.  Hopefully with new  acquisition vehicles and compliance regulations emerging, the purchase of cloud based technologies in the government will ramp up soon rather than later.


About Tim Larkins
Tim Larkins is Senior Director of Market Intelligence and Corporate Development at immixGroup. He has 15 years of experience in business development, management, consulting, and market intelligence helping suppliers and partners with budget analysis, market trends, and opportunity identification. Tim received a Bachelor's Degree from Furman University and an MBA from Benedictine University.

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