Study: Cloud Computing Cuts $5.5 Billion Annually From Federal Budget

The federal government has saved about $5.5 billion annually by moving to cloud services, but it might have saved up to $12 billion had efforts been more aggressive in moving from traditional, on-premise systems to the cloud, a survey of federal IT managers said.

The study, drawn from interviews with 108 federal CIOs and IT managers, was published by MeriTalk Cloud Computing Exchange, a community of federal government leaders focused on public-private collaboration in Washington, D.C.

The IT managers surveyed also reported spending 11 percent of their current, fiscal year 2013 budgets, or $8.7 billion, on cloud computing.

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The chief impediment to implementing cloud services was security, listed by 85 percent of federal IT managers. Also of concern were agency culture, named by 38 percent of managers, and service levels, listed by 32 percent of managers.

Those most opposed to cloud implementation, according to the survey, were IT leadership, at 20 percent; program management, at 18 percent; and legal affairs, at 17 percent.

In the survey, 70 percent of respondents said they expected a rise in cloud applications in the next two years.

Asked to list the biggest driver of federal savings, the respondents ranked data center consolidation, first; cloud computing, second; big data, third; and bring-your-own-device, fourth.

Steve O'Keeffe, the founder of MeriTalk, said cloud computing will increase its adoption rate as federal agencies consolidate their efforts. Several agencies are moving forward with implementation. For example, the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is developing cloud computing programs for the U.S. military, Department of Defense government civilians and DoD contractors.

“There are varied approaches,” he said. “It’s going to be about consolidation.”

O’Keeffe added that government agencies in many cases are overly concerned with security issues when considering cloud computing.

“There are some misgivings about security, but the truth is, I haven’t seen a survey that shows a traditional enterprise environment is safer than a cloud environment,” he said.

Another factor driving cloud implementation will be private sector initiatives that will help the government move toward cloud computing, as seen in the announcement last week that has unveiled a cloud-based marketplace for government agencies for which they plan to train 1,000 integrators and partners to deploy related applications and services.

“Private organizations have already gone through some of these changes and can show government the way,” he said. “ is a perfect example.”