Uncle Sam remains at a “crossroads” when it comes to cloud computing.
That’s the conclusion from a recent survey by professional services firm Grant Thornton, which sized up progress the federal government has made in adopting cloud computing.
On one hand, according to the survey, chief information officers at some of the biggest federal agencies say they are more comfortable using cloud computing and are expanding the use of cloud services for government data and applications. But at the same time, federal CIOs remain skeptical of the cloud because of security. In particular, federal CIOs are worried about who has control of data, where it resides and how is it accessed and protected when stored in the cloud.
“Agencies are accepting of the innovations cloud provides and are willing to make the move to the cloud but leadership is hesitant to migrate all of their applications, databases and infrastructure because of a perceived lack of security,” according to the Grant Thornton survey, which interviewed CIOs from agencies such as the Justice Department, IRS and the Federal Communications Commission.
That concern is not new as the federal government has been wrestling with cloud adoption and security concerns for years. Cloud adoption has been widespread for email and website migration, sparking new competition among tech firms for big dollar federal cloud contracts (the U.S. Air Force recently awarded a $1 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft and Dell to migrate more than 750,000 users to its cloud-based email).
The Grant Thornton survey also highlighted how federal CIOs still have reservations about Obama-era cloud rules established to allow agencies to buy cloud tools faster and cheaper.
A program called the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, FedRAMP, was launched to accelerate cloud adoption by providing specific security controls that ultimately dictate the baseline standards cloud firms need to meet for federal agencies.
A large majority of federal CIOs told Grant Thornton that FedRAMP has helped their agencies adopt cloud, but the survey notes that “the IT community at large still has an overwhelming negative view of FedRAMP and its effectiveness.”
- 33 percent of federal CIOs said they had implemented cloud in some capacity but only a small slice— 5 percent— said those cloud capabilities were “mature”
- 31 percent of federal CIOs categorized their cloud adoption as “somewhat mature,” up from 19 percent in 2016
- 38 percent of agencies said their cloud deployments were either “not mature at all” or “immature”
- 35 percent of federal CIOs were neutral when asked if cloud had provided their agencies with cost savings and efficiencies
- 69 percent of federal CIOs interviewed in person say FedRAMP has helped with cloud adoption (30 percent of online respondents agreed)
- 31 percent of federal CIOs interviewed in person say FedRAMP has not helped with cloud adoption (70 percent of online respondents agreed)