Government CIOs Doubt Cloud Savings

More than 45% of U.S. government IT officials don't think cloud computing will save their agencies enough money to make it worthwhile, an Ovum report finds.
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Despite insistence from U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra that the federal government will save at least $5 billion annually through its planned implementations of cloud computing, government CIOs still aren't so sure the technology can deliver on that promise.

Forty-six percent of U.S. government IT officials polled in a recent survey by Ovum said they don't think cloud computing will save their agencies enough money to make using it worthwhile.

Testifying before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs on Wednesday, Kundra said the federal government's aggressive move to the cloud under his cloud first policy will save taxpayers at least $5 billion yearly.

"When it comes to cloud computing, we're forecasting potentially up to $5 billion in savings," he said. "A lot of this will be a function of the procurements that are being put out on the street and the competitive nature of those procurements. But we expect to save at least $5 billion in that process."

A video of the hearing is available online.

The cloud first policy demands that federal agencies consider the cloud first when planning new technology projects. If other federal IT initiatives are any indication--such as the move to open data and transparency--state and local governments likely will follow the federal lead and begin embracing the cloud in the same way. Some, like the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, already have indicated they will consolidate e-mail systems on the cloud.

Even if Kundra's prediction is true, other barriers to cloud adoption remain in the minds of government CIOs despite the federal cloud mandate, according to Ovum. Long-held fears about adopting cloud computing appear to be lingering in the government CIO community, the survey found.

One is the fear of losing control over business functions by putting them on someone else's cloud. In North America, 68% of CIOs who responded to the survey cited this as a reason that would prevent them from moving to cloud computing.

There is one way around this problem: the private cloud option, which is one the federal government is already using.

The Army, for instance, is consolidating in-house email systems on a cloud hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency. In fact, another survey conducted by the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies at Norwich University found that government employees prefer private or hybrid cloud options over public ones for cloud computing deployments.

Still another barrier to cloud adoption in North America, according to Ovum, is CIOs' loyalty to their current work. In North America, 26 percent of respondents cited this as a reason not to adopt the technology.

Worldwide views varied on all three issues: 49% of European and 29% of Asia-Pacific CIOs polled worried that the cloud would not deliver enough savings, while 39% of European CIOs and 31% of CIOs in the Asia-Pacific region worried about losing control over business processes.

In Europe, 23% said loyalty to their current work would prevent them from moving to the cloud, while 26% of CIOs in the Asia-Pacific region cited this as a barrier to adopting the technology.

In the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Government: More than half of federal agencies will use cloud computing within 12 months, our new survey finds. Security, ROI, and management challenges await them. Download it now. (Free registration required.)