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Dec 07 2012

Cloud Computing Challenges, Fears and Solutions

GITEC event focuses on cloud brokers as potential solution to cloud challenges for government agencies.
Tweets from GITEC's Knowledge Café

Government IT leaders and industry experts recently gathered at the Government Information Technology Executive Council’s (GITEC) Knowledge Café event to discuss cloud brokers. As government agencies move data and applications into the cloud, they are running into issues about security, acquisition, finance and culture. While the move is imminent, IT leaders face questions that don’t yet have answers.

The roundtable focused on the barriers to cloud computing and the fears that are commonly expressed about it.

Security was top of mind for most government leaders, and they wanted to know who actually owns the data once it enters the cloud. According to one cloud vendor, it depends on the provider, but it’s something customers should find out before they select a vendor.

Physical location of data also emerged as an issue. Most CIOs are used to knowing the location of their server and rack, where their data lives; with the cloud, they might not even know what state is home to their data. While there are technical concerns about location and security, the move to cloud computing is shifting the data paradigm, forcing both private industry and the public to change the way they approach data.

Cloud computing is changing not only the way IT approaches data but also the way they approach their jobs. Job security becomes an issue for IT workers as more computing is outsourced. One CIO noted that the “server hugger” mentality is generational, and younger IT personnel are much more comfortable with off-site computing. As with any IT initiative, getting buy-in from government workers is essential to a successful program.

The real focus of the event was cloud brokers. What, exactly, is a cloud broker? The broker serves as a liaison between vendors and the government, but the role changes, depending on the provider and the needs of the government. For example, some brokers simply connect government agencies to vendors but take no responsibility for the services. Other brokers are the point of contact for technical or business needs, handling the finances and shuffling vendors as needed.

As cloud computing grows, the need for this extra layer is becoming more important. While some attendees expressed concern that extra layers add extra costs, the time and resources saved by letting a broker vet vendors and handle the financial side is significant.

Ultimately, technology moves too fast for government to keep up alone. If brokers can offer services to the government, rather than widgets or specific technologies, their role could become invaluable.

Check out to learn more about future events.