The promise of cloud computing has been an important topic of discussion for years throughout the federal government. As the technology matures, and agencies become more experienced in its use, the benefits it provides are growing.
The CDW•G 2012 State of the Cloud Report shows that cloud adoption is increasing, as are the savings organizations expect to gain from moving to the cloud. The survey indicates that 39 percent of organizations were implementing or maintaining a cloud solution in 2012, up from 28 percent in 2011. Further, federal IT professionals who participated in the survey say they expect to save, on average, 16 percent of their IT budget in the first year and 24 percent in four years after moving to the cloud.
The savings that agencies are seeing are significant. For example, the Army expects to save $76 million in 2013 from its switch to the Defense Information Systems Agency’s DOD Enterprise Email cloud. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel has said he expects other federal cloud email projects to save millions more.
But the cloud offers significantly more than cost savings. In fact, 55 percent of respondents to the CDW•G cloud survey say they have benefitted from increased efficiency by switching to the cloud, while 49 percent cite improved employee mobility. Other benefits include a greater ability to innovate and the freeing of IT staff for other projects.
While cloud technology is still maturing, organizations are taking advantage of a variety of IT services. In the CDW•G survey, 39 percent of federal IT professionals say they use the cloud for conferencing and collaboration, while 37 percent use it for messaging and 31 percent for business process applications. Examples of this can be found throughout the government, from small agencies such as the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to huge organizations like the Department of Agriculture.
While adoption is growing, many agencies are still cautious about cloud technology. Security concerns are cited by 56 percent of federal IT pros in the CDW•G survey as among the biggest barriers to cloud adoption. One way agencies have addressed this concern is by building private clouds, a tactic employed by the Homeland Security and Defense departments, among others. The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, which exists to certify the security of public-cloud providers, also will help agencies overcome these challenges.