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Public Sector Slow To Adopt Cloud Computing

Compared to the private sector, government customers are still evaluating using clouds more than actively adopting them, according to a new study by Red Shift Research.
Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers
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With all of the publicity surrounding the federal government's push into the cloud, the public sector still trails the private sector in its adoption of cloud computing globally, according to a new study.

Only 23% of organizations in the public sector are actually using cloud computing, versus 42% of private-sector companies, according to a Red Shift Research global cloud computing study.

Moreover, global public-sector cloud computing adoption remains more in the investigative stages than in actual deployments, according to the study, whereas the private sector seems more willing to invest in and deploy the technology.

AMD sponsored the study "Adoption, Approaches and Attitudes: The Future of Cloud Computing in the Public and Private Sectors", which surveyed 1,513 public- and private-sector organizations with 100 or more employees in the United States, China, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Respondents replied to the online survey in March.

Thirty-six percent of public-sector respondents said they are currently investigating the use of the technology, while 7% said they are using it to host data, 8% said they are using it to host apps, and 8% said they are using it do both.

In the private sector, the numbers for actual use were significantly higher, while those investigating the deployment of apps and data in the cloud remained close to the same. Globally, 33% of private-sector businesses said they are currently exploring the use of cloud computing, while 26% are using it to host data and the same percentage are using it for applications. Fifteen percent said they are using it to host both data and applications, according to the survey.

For private-sector businesses in the United States, numbers trended about the same as global responses. Thirty-five percent said they were currently investigating the use of the cloud, while 29 percent are already using it to host applications, 27% are using it to host data, and 17% are hosting both apps and data.

Respondents from private-sector companies that are currently using cloud computing also seem to be happier with the value they're getting out of cloud computing than their public-sector counterparts. According to the survey, 61% of respondents in the private sector in the U.S. said they're deriving more value from the cloud, while 41% of public-sector respondents said the same.

There is certainly evidence to back a careful approach to the cloud in the U.S. federal government. While several agencies are planning to move to the cloud and have made those plans public, not all of them have actually done so yet.

For example, the Department of Labor last week issued a request for information to move its in-house email system to the cloud, but stressed in the document it's only doing market research and not ready to make any deals yet.

To be fair, while the federal government in the United States already had been exploring the use of cloud computing for some time, its use as a first option for future technology deployments did not come in the form of a mandate until December, when U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra instituted a "cloud first" policy. This surely will hasten the adoption of the technology among U.S. government customers.

The Red Shift report cited some of the usual suspects as barriers to cloud adoption for all the organizations polled, such as fear of the unknown, lack of operational control over data and applications, and worry about the reliability of the technology.

But the public sector also lacks the cloud-computing expertise that is more available in the private sector, according to Red Shift, which could account for slower adoption and less satisfaction among those respondents. Fifth-seven percent of public-sector organizations globally that are deploying a cloud-computing model said they had the skills in house to make the change versus 75% of businesses, according to the survey.

Moreover, only 25% of public-sector organizations mulling the cloud now said they have the necessary skills to do so, according to the survey. "That is a key area of concern where better education must be provided to ensure those who do deploy cloud are comfortable managing their IT and can reap the most value from it," according to Red Shift.

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