Cloud Will Save U.S. Government Billions, But Security Concerns Persist

New study finds that government agencies can net substantial savings by moving mission-critical applications to the cloud, but security remains a top concern.

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In response to a White House mandate, the agencies and departments of the federal government are gradually moving their IT operations to the cloud in a shift that could save billions of dollars, while also raising serious security concerns.

In a new survey of federal IT managers, MeriTalk, an online community dedicated to government technology, charted the progress of agencies that have been shifting "mission-critical" applications to the cloud.

Respondents flagged security as a chief area of concern in migrating to the cloud, with 73 percent indicating that issues such as data vulnerabilities and threat vectors are a primary barrier in shifting mission-critical apps to the cloud.

Perhaps it follows then that the largest proportion of the study participants said that they prefer a private cloud over a hybrid or public model. Thirty-eight percent of the respondents told MeriTalk that they have shifted a mission-critical application to a private cloud, compared to just 11 percent who have made a similar move to a hybrid cloud and 10 percent who have engaged with a public cloud.

The MeriTalk study comes as departments and agencies have been revamping their IT strategies in response to a number of directives from the White House and Office of Management and Budget pertaining to cloud computing and data-center consolidation, an ambitious agenda that seeks to cut costs and streamline the roughly $80 billion federal IT apparatus.

Following on the "cloud-first" policy the Obama administration promulgated in 2010, the General Services Administration has recently been soliciting feedback from industry and government members for a program that would enlist cloud brokers to assist federal agencies with the transition of their systems and applications to private-sector providers.

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