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February 16, 2016 – The cloud computing buzz within the Federal government community began many years ago and was followed by a “Cloud First” mandate by the Obama administration, which directs that agencies take full advantage of cloud computing benefits to maximize capacity utilization, improve IT flexibility and responsiveness, and minimize cost.
The Cloud First initiative was put in place in 2010 and not much has changed in the meantime. Many agencies are still only moving commodity applications, such as email, to the cloud. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), the chair of the House Oversight Committee’s subcommittee on IT, estimated last year that over 80% of the government’s $80B in IT spending went to the maintenance of legacy applications and systems.
So what gives? The issue is that there are still significant barriers to migrating systems to the cloud.
Security: Security continues to be the top concern and barrier to cloud computing. The LinkedIn Cloud Security spotlight surveyed over 250,000 individuals for their insight. Its report found that almost 50% of respondents indicated that cloud security is a barrier to adoption. A full 90% said that they are moderately or very concerned about security, with 63% concerned about the possibility of unauthorized access, 61% fearing account hijacking, and 43% concerned by the threat of malicious insiders. When looking at making a move to the cloud, you should have a realistic sense of your current technology and security posture. Concerns about cloud security are oftentimes based on a utopian vision of your own organization’s current situation. Many times, your existing security isn’t 100% bulletproof. Make sure that you are doing an “apples to apples” comparison of policies and procedures in place within your existing environment and a proposed cloud.
Lock-In: We will discuss vendor lock-in in detail in an upcoming post; in the meantime, it is important to note that organizations are still very fearful of becoming beholden to an individual cloud vendor. Reading “the fine print” is critical to understanding how services with the vendor will end when you are ready to move on – and more importantly to understand the price tag associated with ending services and getting your data back or migrating it to a new vendor.
Complexity: “Every company is an IT company.” IT is such an inherent part of every organization that it becomes part of who the organization is and how it does business. Cloud vendors now get more deeply ingrained with the organizations that they support – including with regard to organization systems and with business processes. Unlike many “barriers” to cloud computing, this issue is growing, not shrinking – which you can see by the increase in companies that specialize in “cloud management” and serve as an intermediary to help organizations deal with the complexity of the cloud.
Expense: Despite the fact that the cloud continues to get cheaper with increased competition and increased volume, the “hidden costs of the cloud” are still a major barrier to adoption. Organizations are looking at the total expense of migrating to the cloud. Most prevalent of these is the need for application rationalization. Many of the legacy applications cited above have tremendous footprints with millions of lines of code and interconnections that have sprawled over 10, 20 or 30 years. The costs of rationalizing these applications is significant – and the payback period may be long.
Despite the tremendous advantages that the cloud offers, barriers to cloud adoption still exist. Successful organizations will take the time to understand the barrier, determine what solutions work for them, and build a cloud strategy that is right for their organization – inclusive of private cloud environments on premises as well a hybrid, private, and public cloud environments off premises.