U.S. Government Could Save Billions by Transitioning to Cloud Computing

As they are, federal IT operations cost about $80 billion to run. However, if every department moved about three mission critical applications to the cloud, roughly $16.6 billion could be saved. Sounds like a no brainer, right? Not so fast. While many agree that using cloud services is necessary and even inevitable, the shift doesn’t come without difficulties and risks.

The Cloud Revolution

The cloud is creating a technological revolution. With the cloud, businesses and agencies can tap into services and software as needed, without having to pay hefty up-front fees. Instead, services can be paid for like utility bills. The cloud also allows:
- Employees to access data from any location with an internet connection, even if it’s not on their personal computer.
- Workers in different locations to collaborate, sharing data and a common workspace without cumbersome email attachments.
- Flexibility when it comes to company growth or changes. It’s no longer necessary to predict what a business or project will need. Instead, response can occur in real time.
- Off-site data back-up. A network or systems crash won’t destroy all your files if they’re stored in the cloud.
Because it’s so flexible, affordable and accessible, cloud services have proven to be extremely popular with small and medium-sized businesses, educational institutions, and governments looking to save money.

Security Risks and Difficulties

But using the cloud comes with security risks. In a recent survey by MeriTalk, a web-based group focused on government technology, 73 percent of IT respondents voiced concerns about data vulnerabilities in the cloud. This could pose serious problems with mission-critical operations. That’s likely behind the reason why many IT professionals are more comfortable transitioning their applications over to a private cloud, than to a hybrid or open public model. In the survey, 38 percent had moved applications to a private cloud, compared to 11 percent who had used a hybrid, and 10 percent who used public.
Another issue is that migrating operations to the cloud isn’t as easy as removing a disc from one drive and loading it into another. The majority of mission-critical federal applications are custom-built to work with specific systems. Moving them to the cloud would, in many cases, require a “major re-engineering.”
While most agree that the federal migration to the cloud is inevitable, not everyone agrees that it’s necessary. Only 46 percent of IT survey respondents said they thought the cloud would help them do their jobs and accomplish tasks more efficiently.
The government’s shift to the cloud is in motion due to the Obama Administration’s “cloud-first” policy. Though they’re starting small, asking for professional feedback and making incremental shifts, survey respondents project that in five years, 44 percent of applications will be cloud-based.

Author Bio:
StephenCraig is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow him @SCraigSEO.

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