Cloud computing faces confusion, but contractors still see an opportunity
Despite slow adoption, Networx contractors plan to offer cloud services
Just 13 percent of federal information technology managers are using cloud computing, only 27 percent open to using a public cloud, and few agree on a definition of cloud computing, a new survey said.
Yet General Services Administration Networx contract holders are gearing up to offer cloud computing on the telecommunications contract, and federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra has proposed setting up a storefront to let agencies quickly buy cloud computing technology.
So what the heck is going on?
“Federal agencies are confused about the cloud,” according to “The 2009 Cloud Consensus Report,” compiled by government IT community Web site MeriTalk and a group of IT vendors headed by public sector IT integrator Merlin International Inc. The authors cite more than 20 definitions in current use.
After surveying 605 public and private sector IT executives, surveyors concluded that “IT managers do not share a common understanding of the technology.”
Although few federal IT execs say they’re using cloud computing, more than 40 percent say they’re currently using database or document management cloud applications, and nearly half “anticipate moving procurement, enterprise resource planning, and customer relationship management applications to a cloud model within the next five years,” the survey said.
Networx Enterprise contract holder Level 3 Communications Inc. is seeing a lot of work with agencies doing content delivery networks, “a kind of cloud computing,” said Edward Morche, Level 3’s senior vice president and general manager of federal markets.
The survey included in its cloud definition software as a service, infrastructure as a service and platform as a service. However it’s defined, Morche said, “cloud computing is a response to video, a response to transparency, a response to an unfunded mandate.” It’s an answer to the question: “How do I do something at the most reasonable price and still be effective?”
Of federal agencies and industry organizations surveyed, 63 percent believe cloud computing is the key to reducing IT expenses. Perhaps more significant for the future of cloud, “90 percent of agencies and organizations that have implemented cloud computing say their implementation has been successful,” the survey said.
The flexibility of cloud computing implementations can make specifying what is and isn’t allowed in the cloud, especially a public cloud.
For that, “Networx also has components for custom managed services,” said Susan Zeleniak, group president of Networx Universal and Enterprise contract holder Verizon Federal.
“For example, if any agency wanted to have a vendor put together a solution and then be responsible for running it, the agency could use the managed services [contract line item] to create the cloud computing solution they want.”
Stepping back in the process, she said, agencies can use an individual case CLIN to get help creating a statement of work to get the engineering expertise they need.
Federal IT execs surveyed continue to worry about security (78 percent) and privacy (41 percent) as well as technical and financial concerns. But they do seem to be in consensus about the inevitability of the approaching day of the federal cloud.
More than three quarters of them believe the cloud is here to stay; 61 percent believe that within five years, most large enterprises will rely on cloud computing.
Sami Lais is a special contributor to Washington Technology.