Federal agencies struggling with Cloud implementations, says Accenture

Cloud computing Federal agencies grappling with implementing Cloud First mandates face staffing challenges and lengthy procurement processes, making it difficult to take advantage of Cloud technologies, according to a new Accenture Federal Services and Government Business Council report.

The report, The Road Ahead: 3 Years After Cloud First, assesses the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of 286 federal executives regarding Cloud services. Survey respondents agreed that cost savings and budget reductions are the primary drivers behind Cloud adoption strategies, but agencies are struggling to develop and implement those strategies, in part, due to a lack of necessary staffing (69 percent) and the lengthy procurement processes (31 percent).

“While there are initial challenges in the adoption of Cloud computing, it holds the potential to play a major role in increasing government efficiency and service delivery,” said Annette Rippert, managing director for technology solutions, who leads Accenture’s federal cloud work. “When properly executed, government agencies have much to gain in transitioning to the Cloud.”

To comply with the 2011 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, known as “Cloud First,” federal agencies must evaluate Cloud options before making new IT investments. However, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report shows that of 20 Cloud migration plans submitted by agencies to the GAO in 2012, only one was complete. In fact, only 10 percent of agencies have migrated more than half of their IT portfolio to the Cloud.

More than two thirds of respondents said their agencies lack the necessary skilled staff to execute its Cloud strategy and 31 percent said they would need to hire at least one new employee. About half of survey respondents (45 percent) said training is necessary to develop those skills, estimating that cost between $25,000 and $50,000.

Only 30 percent of survey respondents are implementing Cloud strategies, and only 4 percent of those agencies are building new Cloud environments. An additional 10 percent are integrating new and legacy systems to a Cloud platform and 4 percent reported implementing “other” strategies. A full 58 percent were not aware of any Cloud strategy underway at their agencies.

Despite the challenges, federal executives see the benefit of Cloud adoption and listed better data security, bigger storage capacity and reduced IT costs as the top three benefits. Surveyed executives expect e-mail (40 percent), agency performance data (34 percent) and data analytics (36 percent) to be most secure in the Cloud.