For state CIOs, cloud moving into the mainstream
Cloud computing is moving from being viewed as an innovation on the edges to being widely accepted among state CIOs as they focus on moving and managing services such as e-mail and storage to the cloud.
State CIOs are now gearing up for the migration of more difficult IT services while continuing to address issues of security, lack of control, cost and procurement, according to the 2012 State CIO Survey released by the National Association of Chief Information Officers along with TechAmerica and Grant Thornton.
There is a significant change from last year’s survey, NASCIO officials said. While the number of CIOs who describe themselves as highly invested remains about the same, the number who categorize themselves as having some applications in the cloud and considering other applications has increased significantly.
In the 2012 survey, 15 percent of the CIOs described their states as highly invested in cloud computing, a slight increase over 14 percent last year. But this year 56 percent say their state has some applications in the cloud and are considering others, compared with 35 percent in 2011.
No respondents in either year have considered and rejected the use of cloud computing, the survey says, which indicates that what was previously considered a leading-edge technology has now become mainstream.
Cloud computing gives the workforce in government agencies and business ubiquitous, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.
CIOs were asked about the major barriers in their state governments to migrating infrastructure, applications or services to the cloud and how they cloud overcome these barriers.
“Over 60 percent of the CIOs mention security concerns, even though multiple studies have concluded that cloud security is no bigger an issue than security in other platforms,” the survey states. About 36 percent of CIOs fear the consequences of a lack of control over their data, a typical concern when moving to a new technology that involves shared resources and governance. Cost is a concern for 29 percent of the CIOs. Twenty-six percent mention procurement obstacles ranging from the lack of a state-approved contract vehicle to the need to better define unique terms and conditions, the survey states.
How should state CIOs address these concerns?
To assuage security concerns, agencies should start by migrating non-critical applications to cloud platforms, CIOs suggest. There is also a need to educate workers in state agencies about cloud security and to create standardized business processes. Another alternative is to use a private or a government cloud.
To address the problem of lack of control and fear of consequences, CIOs suggest the use of pilot projects and clear wording about accountability in the cloud contracts. They also see a need for education, change management and adjusting the state culture in cases where that culture fears the cloud. To alleviate costs concerns, IT managers must demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of the migration before undertaking the project. This means understanding all the costs related to migration as well exit costs if an agency needs to get out of a cloud platform.
Procurement barriers can be overcome by establishing statewide cloud contracts with standard terms and conditions as well as leveraging federal contracts through the General Services Administration and the Western States Contracting Alliance contracts.
The 2012 State CIO Survey: “Advancing the C4 Agenda, Balancing Legacy and Innovation,” examines how well state CIOs are managing the use of older technology while incorporating new technology such as big data, cloud computing, mobile devices, social media and public safety broadband. In last year’s survey, CIOs identified consolidation, collaboration, clout and change as priorities for state CIOs to address moving forward. The survey was released during NASCIO’s annual conference, held this year in San Diego, Calif., Oct. 21-24.