Nov 25 2013

Preparing for PaaS: Agencies Are Ready for Platform as a Service

With 70 percent of the IT budget spent on legacy systems, it’s time to explore new ways to deploy and manage applications.

It’s hard to imagine that the federal government spends $56 billion — more than 70 percent of its annual budget — on legacy systems. It’s critical that agencies speed up their move to the cloud in order to get budgets and mission-critical technology under control.

A recent survey from MeriTalk examined how platform as a service (PaaS) can help the government deploy and manage new applications while dramatically reducing the cost and improving the efficiency of operations. As the survey notes, “Hosting new application development in the cloud lets agencies develop, experiment, innovate, and test for pennies on the dollar.” The survey includes input from 153 federal IT professionals and offers some insight into how 2014 could look from an investing standpoint.

It’s Time to Retire Legacy Technology


Why are so many legacy systems still in place in the government? Contracts are one of the main reasons that agencies are stuck with outdated technology, but the up-front costs of new technology, including PaaS, are high. Here’s a look at some of the survey’s results:

[L]imited resources and contract challenges leave them stuck at go:

  • Application renovations take time and money – both scarce resources for Federal agencies
  • Additionally, 50% feel they’re missing out because they’re “locked in” to current technology contracts

PaaS offers a solution – improved application development and big-five support:

  • Feds believe moving to PaaS would cut the application life cycle by 31% and save the government more than US$20.5 billion annually
  • Those transitioning to PaaS also say it offers vital support for cloud computing (92%) and data center consolidation (90%)

Will it take?

  • While just 12% of Feds are using PaaS today, 71% are considering the technology or actively transitioning
  • In three years, agencies estimate 40% of their software, applications development, and hosting will take place using a PaaS model

Restricting contracts are causing many federal IT workers to go rogue. In fact, 37 percent of this survey’s respondents admit to “using a tool or application for work purposes that has not been approved, despite the majority agreeing that shadow IT is a significant security concern.” This opens the door for new security threats that cannot be easily managed by IT departments.

Driving the Big Five

PaaS and the Big Five

One advantage of PaaS is that it supports other important initiatives. Right now, there are five key initiatives — cloud, data center consolidation, shared services, Big Data and mobility — and IT workers agree that PaaS would support all of them. Coupled with long-term cost-savings, PaaS presents an appealing proposition for federal IT leaders to consider in 2014. As stated in the survey, “71% are considering [PaaS] or in the process of transitioning to it.”

Preparing for PaaS

Path to PaaS

While the transition to PaaS might not be imminent for many agencies, the time to prepare is now. Prepping for PaaS includes beefing up security, leveraging other cloud tools and educating federal leaders on the benefits of the service.

Download the full survey here.