Nov 04 2015

Government Should Embrace Convergence

Businesses are leveraging the convergence of cloud, mobile and social — it’s time government does the same.

Imagine a new startup company taking on the challenge of providing healthcare to all Americans, or creating an app to streamline citizenship or visa applications, or equipping the warfighter of the future with situational awareness and position data coming together to enhance mission outcomes.

Such a company would recognize the need to power business with cloud and mobile platforms as core engines.

We can already see the results: Companies like Uber and 23andMe leverage customer data to not only provide better services to their customers, but also analyze and perfect their business models in real time.

The Government Must Prepare For Changes in IT Strategy


The percentage of feds who say they remain “uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” turning IT services and applications over to cloud providers

SOURCE: Cloud Computing Caucus Advisory Group, “Don’t Be a Box Hugger,” May 2015

The transformational impact of web-based technologies disrupting the status quo of larger, more established organizations has been evident since the early days of the Internet. Today, we are watching the next phase of disruption, powered by broadband Internet ubiquity, location-aware smartphones and the commoditization of underlying computing resources.

The risks inherent in the failure to adopt new models aren’t limited to the private sector. Government agencies face rising pressures of their own in the new knowledge economy. Traditional government processes often end up hobbled by legacy, siloed technology solutions that prove inadequate.

With the release of the Digital Government Strategy, the Obama administration has taken many steps to highlight and address this core disconnect in the technology space.

The strategy calls for a cloud-first approach to federal IT and establishes digital service teams within each agency.

According to CDW’s “Cloud 401 Report,” 47 percent of federal IT respondents cite security as the largest barrier to cloud migration. The largest use cases for cloud adoption fall within highly commoditized areas of IT, such as storage, email and web hosting. While that may be a good trend, it leaves a much larger opportunity on the table: The true promise of the cloud lies not only in reducing IT costs by offloading commodity services to vendors, but also in unleashing and leveraging the growth, scale and power of cloud computing models.

Agencies and cloud service providers must adopt new trust frameworks designed for the cloud era. FedRAMP and the new draft FedRAMP-TIC overlay guidance are positive steps toward establishing trust in the cloud’s ability to meet security requirements.

Cloud Platforms Shift Business Models

Cloud platforms not only meet security requirements, but can vastly improve the overall cybersecurity posture compared with the status quo.

Cybersecurity models adopted by industry, encryption paradigms, mobility use cases and cyberthreats all continue to evolve faster than traditional federal policy-making cycles can accommodate. As a result, frameworks must be designed to be flexible, and evolve constantly. Cloud business models change rapidly, and government must develop new acquisition pathways that foster adoption of new services and providers as they become available to government customers.

Agencies also should look to invest in and establish a new generation of technologists who truly understand and can leverage cloud and mobile technologies. Those individuals must be able to connect the dots between cloud platforms, open-source frameworks and application programming interfaces to create new services and delivery models.

This new way of thinking is essential to meeting the expectations of constituents who increasingly look to agencies to deliver services similar to smart private sector companies.

Enterprise cloud companies are poised to help agencies not only meet but exceed today’s security, compliance and management challenges, and help them deliver incredibly powerful and engaging citizen services like never before. By leveraging cloud as the core engine of this transformation, agencies can ensure they are poised to meet demands of the digital economy.