Cloud conversation shifting to new concerns
Discussions around federal cloud computing no longer center around whether to make the migration, but how to do it in a smart way, according to a General Services Administration official.
Delivering a keynote at the Cloud Standards Customer Council’s quarterly meeting in Reston, Va., David McClure, associate administrator GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, spoke about the government’s progress in implementing cloud, what challenges it has met and overcome and what lies ahead for federal cloud adoption.
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While cloud has the power to bring efficiency and cost savings in the government, “it’s not nirvana, it’s not a magic pill, it’s not a magic wand,” McClure said.
“CIOs, I think, are really struggling right now to understand where cloud computing fits in their overall investment, source and strategy,” he said. “One thing we’ll see as this matures is that federal CIOs really have to [plan for] cloud in context of what they’re trying to deliver and how they’re trying to deliver it.”
Cloud computing has also brought about a significant shift in the procurement area, with the government acquiring more services than actual products. Scalability, elasticity, pricing as we go have all been foreign concepts to the current procurement process, making it challenging for cloud to “just step into this very easily,” McClure said.
Federal CIOS should open up the dialog on smart cloud computing by asking what exactly cloud computing is expected to achieve and whether it produces not only cost savings from a pure IT operational perspective but also helps in mission delivery, McClure said.
Most of the federal cloud deployment today can be found in low-risk categories such as public-facing websites, Software-as-a-Service, e-mail, mobile apps and infrastructure modernization, McClure said. As for agencies moving their moderate- or high-risk systems to the cloud, don’t expect that to happen anytime soon, he said.
“We don’t see a mad march in taking mission-critical applications and systems and offloading them into a cloud environment,” McClure said.
Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.