Research Report: Cloud Computing

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Cloud computing has quickly matured to the point that it is on the threshold of becoming a mainstream source of technology for government agencies. Nearly four out of 10 respondents to a recent survey have adopted cloud computing or are in the process of adopting it for at least one process or application. And as they have learned more about it, they have gained a more mature perspective on its benefits and risks.

As the benefits of cloud computing become clearer -- and deadlines for various mandates come closer -- government agencies are increasingly turning to the cloud, to the point that nearly four out of 10 respondents have adopted some form of cloud computing or are in the process of adopting it, according to a recent survey of almost 300 respondents. A year earlier, only a quarter of the respondents were using or implementing cloud computing.
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Just 10 percent of respondents who have adopted cloud computing are using a public cloud for infrastructure as a service, down from 23 percent last year. Public cloud use for platform as a service declined to 8 percent of respondents from 17 percent in 2011. For software as a service, the numbers increased slightly in 2012, up 2 percent to 25 percent of respondents.
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Roughly one-quarter of respondents use some form of software as a service, compared to 19 percent using infrastructure as a service and 16 percent using platform as a service. And even larger numbers of respondents are considering those architectures, especially SaaS and IaaS. “SaaS has been the strongest cloud category in government for good reason. It’s easy to switch on and get started,” a consultant said.
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Despite evidence to the contrary, a growing majority — 60 percent versus 54 percent last year — said they believe security risks are greater in the cloud than for on-premises systems. The biggest concern is security in the public cloud. For software as a service, the survey found security was a concern for 50 percent of respondents.
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Nearly half of the federal employees in the survey have no idea what FedRAMP is, much less the impact it will have on their agencies. Only a quarter of the respondents knew enough to have an opinion about the program. The CIO Council developed the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program to establish a consistent approach to security for cloud computing across the federal government
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