Cloud Trust Improves Among Government IT Pros

Four times more government agencies are considering the cloud this year as compared to 2010, according to a new survey. Security tops their worry list.
Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers
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Slideshow: Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers
Despite persisting concerns about security, four times the number of government agencies are considering cloud computing now than a year ago, according to a new report.

Nearly 50% of government IT professionals surveyed in a new study by Lockheed Martin and its Cyber Security Alliance partners said they would trust the cloud for at least some applications, versus 12% a year ago, according to the Getting Secure in the Cloud report published this week. InformationWeek acquired slides of the report, which is not available online.

That's despite the fact that security remains the biggest concern in leveraging the cloud: 94% of respondents cited it as a consideration, making it the number 1 issue among those polled.

However, this could be because of misconceptions about cloud computing that still seem to exist among IT professionals. According to the survey, 57% of those who were more familiar with the cloud cited security as a concern, versus 67% of those who were less familiar.

Even so, cloud adoption also has risen significantly since last year. Last year only 2% of respondents said they had moved at least one application to the cloud, while this year 10% said they have done so.

This increase also could be due to U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra's "cloud first" policy, instituted in December, which mandates that all federal agencies consider the cloud first when developing new IT projects. The policy has spurred a rash of cloud deals that are either in the planning or implementation stage, as each agency also was required to identify at least three systems they could move to the cloud.

Behind security, dependability (88%), availability (85%), and the ability to use existing applications (76%) were top considerations when implementing or deciding whether to implement the cloud. These also were the top considerations when professionals are evaluating cloud service providers, according to the survey.

Those surveyed had some suggestions for making the cloud even more palatable for federal IT professionals. Not surprisingly, the top recommendation by far was to increase and demonstrate security (50%), followed by a 6% tie among education, adhering to standards and certifications, and reliability and stability, according to the survey.

Lockheed Martin, along with partners in an alliance it formed in 2009 to conduct cybersecurity research, commissioned the survey, which was conducted by Market Connections. Partners in the Cyber Security Alliance include Microsoft, VMWare, McAfee, and Juniper Networks, among others.

Market Connections polled 196 IT professionals in multiple federal organizations--including federal civilian and independent agencies, military agencies, and intelligence agencies--as well as government contractors.

What industry can teach government about IT innovation and efficiency. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Government: Federal agencies have to shift from annual IT security assessments to continuous monitoring of their risks. Download it now. (Free registration required.)