Feds Hesitate Moving IT Services To The Cloud

Government IT execs compare transitioning data to the cloud to giving their kids the keys to a new convertible.
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Government Data + Maps: 10 Great Examples
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Government agencies know the benefits of cloud computing and want to double its use. But when it comes to migrating applications to the cloud, the majority of feds -- 89% -- are hesitant to lose control of their IT services, according to a new MeriTalk report.

For "Cloud Control: Moving to the Comfort Zone," MeriTalk surveyed 153 government IT executives closely involved in their agencies' cloud deployments, and found that only 44% of agencies have "mature" data governance practices in the cloud. When asked how they feel about transitioning IT service to the cloud, 43% of feds compared it to giving their son the keys to a new convertible. This explains why agencies manage 71% of data themselves, whereas cloud vendors manage just 29%.

"With the introduction of new hybrid cloud architectures, data stewardship becomes even more complex, as data must be managed and accessed across any cloud," Kirk Kern, chief technology officer of the US public sector at NetApp, said in a written statement. NetApp, a provider of network data storage and management, co-sponsored the report with Arrow Electronics.

[Will naked celebrities further erode cloud trust? read Apple iCloud Hack's Other Victim: Cloud Trust.]

Security concerns continue to hold agencies back -- only one in five IT execs is completely confident in her cloud vendor's security. Only a third of agencies met the June 5 deadline to ensure that their cloud products and services comply with the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). However, nine out of 10 agencies are taking steps to manage trust with their cloud vendors, such as keeping security functions on premise (42%) and requiring certification of security measures by cloud vendors (41%).

To address the challenges of data governance, agencies require enterprise-wide practices -- including documenting metadata, defining integration processes, and identifying data owners. Sixty-one percent of respondents said their agencies do not have quality, documented metadata; 52% don't have well-understood data integration; 50% haven't defined data owners; and 49% don't have known systems of record.

The report found that those actively improving their data governance programs are more likely to be comfortable with turning their IT services over to cloud vendors. That's why 56% of agencies are currently implementing data stewardship or a more formal data governance program for cloud services or vendors. More than half (55%) of those surveyed said cloud computing will make data management easier.

By working in the cloud, feds believe they will have tighter security with quicker access to information, support of virtual staff, access from any location, and easier configuration management, among other benefits.

Find out how NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory addressed governance, risk, and compliance for its critical public cloud services. Get the new Cloud Governance At NASA issue of InformationWeek Government Tech Digest today. (Free registration required.)

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