In February of 2010, the United States Government first introduced the Cloud First Policy. Its goal was to push government services towards third party cloud computing services that could provide a host of benefits over the software stacks and services that were (and often still are) in place. According to the US General Services Administration, the goals were primarily to “maximize capacity utilization, improve IT flexibility and responsiveness, and minimize cost.” All these, of course, are hallmarks of what make cloud computing services so compelling for the end user.
While it’s been nearly four years since the policy was introduced, the amount of progress has been questionable. According to a report published by Accenture at the end of 2013, government agencies are struggling to move forward with the mandate. Some of the findings in that report are quite staggering, for example:
- Fewer than half of respondents have moved more than 10% of their IT portfolio to the cloud.
- Fewer than one third of responders believe their agency has the necessary staff to execute its cloud strategy.
- Over one third of managers feel the length of the procurement process hinders cloud adoption at their agency.
- Of the 20 cloud migration plans submitted by agencies to the GAO in 2012, only one had been completed. Eleven plans failed to report performance goals, and seven didn’t include cost estimates.
- Less than half of respondents are familiar or very familiar with their agency’s cloud strategy.
Given the many challenges involved with migrating to the cloud - why, other than the mandate - are agencies still behind the push for cloud services? Cost savings, for one, but also data center consolidation, and, perhaps surprisingly, increased security. Other listed benefits included increases in efficiency, accessibility, reliability, speed of innovation and improved collaboration.
Considering the many benefits of cloud adoption for government agencies, it’s surprising to see the lack of progress. This may point to a slight gap in the market between the current technical state of most government agencies and the ease with which current generation of cloud offerings can be implemented.
Fortunately, it appears that cloud service providers are rapidly closing that gap. Consider the Amazon AWS GovCloud (US) Region. This specialized section of Amazon Web Services is tailored specifically to the needs of government users. With AWS, users gain access to a suite of secure, scalable, and flexible IT infrastructure services, and, only have to pay for the services and resources that are used. In addition, users gain access to third party AWS applications that have been approved for use within the GovCloud (US) Region. This includes two of our own products - Postgres Plus Cloud Database Advanced and Postgres Plus Cloud Database Basic. The availability of Postgres on AWS with enterprise-class enhancements within GovCloud means government agencies can move away from costly traditional vendors and slash costs, without sacrificing performance.
Given the many benefits of cloud adoption and the ease with which they can now be adopted, it is even more imperative that government agencies move with haste to fulfill the objectives originally outlined in the Cloud First Policy.
Fred Dalrymple is Product Manager of Postgres Plus Cloud Database at EnterpriseDB.