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New Cloud Survey Reveals Need for Federal Agencies to Go Beyond ‘Lift and Shift’ to Maximize Value of the Cloud

Survey of federal managers finds increased support for cloud, but lingering challenges hinder what many thought would be a seamless migration.

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 1, 2017: Federal managers note increased support for cloud computing technology over the last few years, but that migration and execution may be impacting value of cloud migration, according to a new survey by Government Business Council (GBC) and Deloitte. The report, titled “Mastering the Migration: A Candid Survey of Federal Leaders on the State of Cloud Computing,” collected responses from 328 senior employees in 30 major agencies across the civilian and defense government sectors.

While more respondents say cloud computing has had a positive impact (24%) on their organization than those that reported a negative one (6%), the survey finds that nearly one in three feds observed no noticeable impact in the years following the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy’s 2011 release. Additionally, 40 percent of respondents were unable to say whether cloud has had any impact on their organization. Even though top executives including CIOs and CFOs have been vocal advocates for cloud, these findings suggest IT leadership may need to be more involved in cloud migration projects to help communicate how value can be achieved.

One reason for these results may be that the federal government’s “lift-and-shift” approach has been its primary method to meet the objectives of the Cloud First policy, enabling agencies to replicate in-house applications in the cloud without modifying their original design. While lift-and shift can offer agencies a convenient, cost-cutting option in the short term, it does not factor in how migration will impact IT architectures, enterprise functionality, and the personnel who will use it on a daily basis.

As one respondent noted, “Newer applications have become non-intuitive, are slow to load, and make working more difficult rather than easier.” Agencies should evolve to become more Cloud Native, re-architecting applications for maximum flexibility in the cloud in order to meet the expectations of users and other key stakeholders.

“The promise of the cloud is huge, but the journey isn’t easy,” said Doug Bourgeois, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and a federal technology team leader. “Cloud value cannot be achieved through technology alone—it’s about governance, security, and transformation. This report validates that support for cloud in federal agencies is growing, but perceptions of its impact vary significantly. Agencies should rethink their core development principles and strategy for migration to the cloud.”

A high percentage of respondents (41%) describe their organization’s efforts to migrate to the cloud as mixed, problematic, or non-existent. Even more telling, less than one in 10 respondents consider their agency’s migration to be successful. These difficulties stem from a number of barriers, most prominently security concerns, lack of skills/expertise, budget constraints, inflexibility of legacy applications, and organizational change. Not all clouds are created equal and neither are applications. As a result, success in the cloud requires a certain degree of evolution in the IT services portfolio, cyber practices and organization.

“While most respondents agree that cloud computing should provide many benefits, what we are seeing is that federal agencies that have implemented the cloud may still be working on bringing those benefits fully to fruition and/or communicating those benefits that have been achieved,” said Nicholas McClusky, director of research & strategic insights at GBC.

The cloud offers the opportunity for applications to meet the changing expectations of users–particularly when it comes to delivering ease of operations, stability performance, and agility. Only one in five survey respondents indicated that their organization is either extensively leveraging cloud-native applications or at least piloting early applications developed for cloud.

“As with any big government initiative, there are going to be growing pains,” commented McClusky. “When there is a mandate from a higher government authority to pursue a policy, some details may be often overlooked and can cause delays in the implementation. While cloud is the path forward, institutional policies around security and data sharing need to catch up to fit the new architecture.”

More information, including additional study findings, is available here.

About Government Business Council
As Government Executive Media Group's research division, Government Business Council (GBC) is dedicated to advancing the business of government through analysis, insight, and analytical independence. An extension of Government Executive's 40 years of exemplary editorial standards and commitment to the highest ethical values, GBC studies influential decision makers from across government to produce intelligence-based research and analysis.

About Deloitte’s Federal Government practice
Deloitte provides consulting, financial advisory, risk management, audit and tax services to selected clients. More than 7,350 professionals are dedicated to serving U.S. federal clients with wide-ranging missions. Deloitte applies a mix of private-sector insights and public-sector experience to work with federal agencies to rethink, reduce and restructure—from day-to-day operations to large-scale transformations. To learn more, visit www.deloitte.com/us/federal-cloud.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of our legal structure. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

GBC media contact:
Nicholas McClusky
Director, Research & Strategic Insights
Government Executive Media Group
+1 202 266 7841

Deloitte media contact:
Megan Doern
Federal Media Relations
Deloitte Services LP
+1 571 858 1990

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