Fed cloud boom is real: MacGov

James Riley
Editorial Director

Federal government agency attitudes around cloud computing security have flipped from negative to positive in just three years according to a new survey of 45 government agencies.

The latest Federal Government Cloud Computing Adoption Survey commissioned from tech industry researcher Ovum by Macquarie Telecom found a big shift in attitudes towards cloud from its survey sample of 45 agencies compared to the previous survey carried out in 2015.

Macquarie Government said the survey respondents made little mention of using cloud as their pathway to the sort of slick, 21st century digital services the Federal government desires.

CloudLand: Interest in cloud has moved from ‘dipping a toe in the water’

“Departments and agencies reported many practical positives from moving to the cloud, including enhanced security, cost savings, speed of deployment, and better support and reliability,” the company said.

“However, there was very little mention of the broader Government digital strategy, to use cloud as a platform to transform the experience of citizens interacting with Government services.”

However, there were profound changes in government agency attitudes to cloud compared to the previous survey done in 2015.

“In 2015 there was a great willingness in saying they were going to go to cloud, but when we asked about the type of process and the strategy and what were their drivers to cloud there was really nothing much behind that,” Macquarie Government spokesman David Forman said.

Federal agency understanding of cloud was now much more sophisticated, he said.

In responses on how they would advise another agency on shifting to cloud, survey respondents were much more detailed compared to the earlier study.

“They reflect the difficulties they would encounter in real life in actually doing it,” said Mr Forman.

“All of which is an indication they have gone beyond dipping a toe in the water and they are genuinely shifting production workloads across.”

The report was authored by Ovum senior analyst Kevin Noonan who says the security debate around cloud which figured heavily in the 2015 study is now over.

“It is time to move beyond the debate, where security is seen as a particular challenge for cloud solutions. The cloud security question is now being addressed very well by government and industry,” Mr Noonan writes in the report.

In a question which asked which factors influenced agency decisions to invest in Infrastructure as a Service, the number one priority was security, with cost cutting and responding to government policy direction coming in as two and three.

“Security now rates higher than cost savings as a cloud driver,” notes Mr Noonan.

Who is winning the battle for the Federal government cloud market? So far, that would be global public cloud gorillas, AWS and Microsoft Azure.

Across the 45 agencies surveyed, AWS was providing more than 20 per cent of agency client workloads across more than 25 agencies. Azure was doing it for more than 15 agencies, followed by Google with more than 10.

How are agencies faring as they roll out cloud? Many are finding it tough.

While 44 per cent of agencies reported their most recent cloud implementation as “as expected”, 36 percent said it was “harder than expected.”

The number one difficulty for Federal agency cloud migrations was project complexity, closely followed by blowing the budget.

There were 30 agencies citing project complexity as a difficulty with cloud migration while more than 25 agencies quoted cost over-run as a problem with going to the cloud.

“This question provides some important insights about the transition to cloud. Vendor performance is rarely the problem,” Ovum noted.

“Instead, the challenges tend to relate to an underestimation of the planning and effort that needs to be invested. A particular issue is developing processes to manage pay-per-use for cloud services.”

In a sign of the maturity in the quality of cloud services, just ten agencies fingered poor service availability as an issue, while only five reported poor service performance as a problem in their migration.

Looking at intended cloud investment in the next 12 months, IaaS private cloud just topped Software as a Service private cloud with almost 25 agencies liking private IaaS and more than 20 ticking private SaaS.

Public cloud investment is on the rise though, with 20 agencies looking at public SaaS and almost 15 looking at public IaaS.

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