When Gartner announced the arrival of the federal cloud “inflection point” almost two years ago, it was a moment worth celebrating.
In 2010, the Cloud First policy was issued. By 2017, federal IT leaders had largely overcome skepticism, caution, and discomfort on cloud matters, and dozens of cloud initiatives ensued. Obstacles fell away, and federal experimentation with cloud computing accelerated.
2019 brought key guidance to accelerate cloud adoption, culminating in the Federal Cloud Smart Strategy. Up to that point, the cloud computing challenge for federal agencies was about the technology. Will it be secure? Will it protect privacy? How do we find the skills needed to move to the cloud? Which applications are “cloud ready?” How do we avoid vendor lock-in of data? Should an agency wait for a cloud solution to get through FedRAMP? Is it worth the risk of losing direct control over equipment, network, applications, and data?
Those were all important questions, clearly, but they begged the big one: What does the cloud mean for our mission?
Now, in 2020, with a set of new policies driving agencies to take advantage of cloud computing, there’s a new inflection point that is on the horizon for some agencies and in the grasp for others. The shift is reflected in rapid growth of cloud services for operations of the business (business process, platform, and applications services), which will account for 75% of cloud services spending, according to Gartner’s forecast. This is where the full potential of the cloud can be realized and an agency’s use of the cloud begins to play a substantial role in fulfilling its mission:
- Instead of just reducing data storage costs, the agency can put data to valuable use and make it securely accessible to tech-savvy citizens accustomed to the remarkable customer service and responsiveness in the private sector.
- Instead of having to staff up to procure, deploy, and maintain software and hardware, cloud providers remove the headaches of technology refresh cycles, version updates, security patches, etc., freeing up skilled IT employees for mission-critical tasks and shifting resources from legacy maintenance to modernization initiatives.
- Instead of long implementation cycles for new technology, agencies can rapidly deploy new capabilities to create a responsive user experience and a modern work environment, improving both citizen and employee satisfaction.