Critical Read

Feds' cloud relationship knotty but ultimately nice

cloud concept with man in suit

What: "Cloud Without the Commitment," by MeriTalk.

Why: Federal agencies have been told they have to consider the cloud for IT needs to increase their efficiency and operability. Like any complicated relationship, the one between federal IT and commercial cloud service providers is fraught with anxieties about total commitment and security.

In a study underwritten by Red Hat and Cisco, MeriTalk surveyed 150 federal IT managers about their thinking on barriers to cloud adoption. The report found that although 75 percent of those surveyed wanted to move more services to the cloud, 53 percent of the pool said they feared long-term contracts associated with the services.

Insecurities with data integration and portability also surface in the cloud relationship. The study found that 58 percent of the federal IT managers surveyed said cloud/legacy system integration is a barrier to their further migration; 57 percent cited their inability to move data from existing legacy systems to the cloud; 54 percent cited concerns about moving data once it is in the cloud. Additionally, the study said agencies estimated that 32 percent of their data couldn't be moved to the cloud because of security or data sovereignty issues. Even with the government's Federal Risk and Authorization Program stamp of approval, a significant number of federal managers in the poll -- 23 percent -- said they weren't comfortable passing sensitive data even to FedRAMP-certified cloud providers.

Despite the reservations, the managers really liked the cloud, according to the study, which said that just over half rated their experiences with cloud as "very successful."

Verbatim: "But, Feds who use/are open to using open source are seeing greater cloud success than the average. Seventy-two percent say data security has improved by moving services to the cloud in the past year versus 47 percent of those not using/open to using open source options. Fifty-six percent say they are very satisfied with cloud agility versus 34 percent of their peers."

Read it: You can read the full report here.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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