Friday, August 24, 2012

Demand for Cloud Services Among Government Agencies

While much of the market attention on cloud services adoption tends to be focused on private enterprise applications, government agencies potentially have a lot to gain from its widespread use.

The cost-savings and scalability advantages of the cloud have been clear to those savvy IT leaders that are informed, but government adoption has been hampered by some unique challenges -- and the absence of a compelling mandate. That is, progress was slow until the "Cloud First" initiative was launched.

IDC has released a status update that details the growing demand for cloud services and enterprise architecture resources among U.S. government agencies. Their latest market study focuses on the results of an IDC Government Insights survey, which measured the progress of cloud solutions at government agencies -- while also examining the related architecture needs.

The results of the comprehensive survey revealed that despite the growing demand for cloud services, many IT managers are unsure of their organization's overall cloud strategy and the resources available to purchase and implement cloud services.

The Strategic Imperative for Cloud Services

The IDC report of the market study findings also highlighted that government employees now realize cloud solutions are becoming important for IT strategy. However, apparently many decision makers are still evaluating what cloud solutions will specifically mean to them and their organization.

In addition, in spite of the fact that managed cloud service offerings have been made available to government agencies for some time now, more than a third of the survey respondents lacked knowledge of cloud services budgeting.

IDC Government Insights finds that extensive government employee outreach is necessary to boost the comprehension or understanding of cloud migration strategies and related budgetary requirements.

Other findings from the latest IDC report include:
  • Across all levels of government 90 percent anticipate cloud services will have impact on computing infrastructure.
  • Local government participants were the least optimistic about cloud, with 14.7 percent saying cloud wasn't at all important.
  • Despite the fact that CFOs are often the people who drive their group's transition to cloud (due to potential cost savings) 60 percent of chief financial officers are only somewhat familiar with their organization's cloud strategy.
  • Indicating the presence of some progressive thinking, 15.2 percent of respondents said they would dedicate between 1 and 10 percent of their agency's IT budget to cloud services.
  • When it comes to cloud providers, there is a clear preference across all levels of government for large IT vendors versus smaller, specialty providers.

"Survey data indicates that significant progress already has been made for cloud services, but overall progress will only accelerate once several important issues have been addressed," said Shawn McCarthy, research director at IDC Government Insights.

IDC believes that these outstanding issues include lack of knowledge by some participants on the level of funding available to spend on cloud solutions -- as well as the needed IT architecture changes that can help agencies move more aggressively into cloud.

Furthermore, by focusing on greater outreach efforts to bring all IT employees in line with enterprise cloud plans, government agencies can begin to benefit from the readily available cloud computing services.

The IDC survey was conducted in the late spring of 2012 and measured the responses of more than 400 government information technology employees at various levels of the U.S. government. About half of the participants work for the federal government, with the remainder working in either state or local government.

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