Cloud Confusion: Does Sluggish Federal Cloud Adoption Mean Opportunity For Solution Providers?

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Three years after the government launched the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, commonly referred to as Cloud First, the federal public sector is still not catching onto the cloud, an Accenture study found. However, solution providers say that doesn't mean the government cloud market is dead. In fact, they say there is a huge opportunity for growth over the next few years.

The Cloud First Policy, launched in February 2011, mandated that government agencies have to consider a cloud-based option when making IT decisions and investments. However, the Accenture study found that of the 20 cloud migrations submitted to the Government Accountability Office in 2012, only one of the projects was complete. Eleven of the plans failed to report performance goals, and seven did not include any cost estimates.

In fact, 58 percent of the 286 respondents from high-level positions within a wide array of agencies said that they didn't even know what strategy their agency was taking in regards to the cloud. However, that doesn't mean that they aren't aware, said Annette Rippert, managing director technology solutions at Accenture.

[Related: Federal IT Market: 2013 Was Tough, But It's A New Year]

"We have a lot of progressive thinkers across the federal agencies. This is certainly not something that goes unaddressed," Rippert said.

The problem is that nothing in the government moves quickly, especially when legacy systems are still in place that give them an excuse not to make the switch, said Larry Hymson, vice president of client services at Morris Plains, N.J.-based CherryRoad Technologies.

"I think that they're adapting to the cloud quickly," Hymson said. "It's government so nothing is fast."

While most agencies have moved fewer than 10 percent of their portfolios to the cloud, that doesn't mean the government won't adopt it going forward, Hymson said. Although it might seem slow from a commercial standpoint, there isn't really the demand yet for government agencies to make the switch to the cloud when their legacy systems are still in place and functioning.

"You wouldn't expect them to do it when they don't have to," Hymson said. However, when those legacy systems expire, there will be a huge opportunity for solution providers to help them make the switch to a more cost-effective cloud system, he said.

Part of the hesitation is a lack of understanding of the cloud and cloud solutions, Kumar Nandigam, CEO of Tekpros, said. The Accenture study found that 44 percent of managers were either not familiar with cloud strategies or didn't know the agency's cloud strategies, and 13 percent did not have a cloud strategy at all.

"It's a new thing to them to learn about it and to adopt the cloud," Nandigam said.

NEXT: How A Solution Provider Can Gain From The Slow Cloud Movement

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