Government's 7 top challenges to embracing the cloud

As part of the Obama administration's 2010 "Cloud First" policy, the Government Accountability Office recently released a report assessing the progress seven selected agencies have made in implementing this policy. The watchdog agency identified seven challenges the agencies are facing.

The selected seven agencies were – Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State, Treasury, General Services Administration and the Small Business Administration. recently published a summary of the report in which GAO identified seven common challenges associated with the implementation of OMB's "Cloud First" policy:

1. Meeting federal security requirements. Finding cloud vendors that can handle government agencies' security requirements topped the list of challenges.

2. Obtaining guidance. In some cases, GAO found that a mandate to move to the cloud was issued before sufficient guidance for agencies to follow was in place.

3. Acquiring knowledge and expertise. Some agencies had a difficult time teaching employees new processes, such as those for monitoring performance.

4. Certifying and accrediting vendors. Federal security standards can slow down the process of certifying vendor employees and services; it took the General Services Administration over a year to get past this stage with Google.

5. Ensuring data portability and interoperability. Always a difficult step, especially when changing vendors.

6. Overcoming cultural barriers. Government's culture can work against a switch to cloud computing, especially if an agency has already had throuble with security breaches.

7. Procuring services on a consumption (on-demand) basis. On-demand service is one of the advantages of cloud computing, but because demand can ebb and flow, and spikes in demand from such things as emergencies can't be predicted, budgeting and contracting for such a service is challenging.

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