Special Research Report: Cloud Computing

In December 2010, the 1105 Government Information Group and Beacon Technology Partners conducted a survey of federal IT managers to determine their attitudes toward cloud computing. The survey revealed the greatest cloud opportunities among federal agencies and the preferred deployment modes for cloud initiatives. Additionally, the research showed perceived advantages of cloud computing, concerns about security, and more. Read this special research report for more information.

Private clouds dominate
In general, federal agencies and departments opt for private clouds when sensitive or mission-critical information is involved. Private clouds are hosted on an agency's own dedicated hardware, and services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network. This increases security, reliability, performance and service. Yet like other types of clouds, it's easy to scale quickly and pay for only what is used, making it an economical model.
Cloud computing could help the government become significantly more efficient. But is it always the right choice?

Top cloud shadows

The Download survey found that 55 percent of the 460 government respondents don’t think cloud solutions are secure enough, and 59 percent agreed that security risks associated with cloud computing implementation are greater than those for on-premise IT implementations.
Several agencies are confidently wading through complicated cloud security concerns to help others feel better about releasing control of their data.
Cloud readiness

Cloud adoption is basically in the investigation stage, according to the survey respondents. While roughly 12 percent of the respondents have already adopted cloud computing for at least one application, 20 percent are in development, and 55 percent are investigating the technology.

Although cloud computing will not completely replace on-site data centers in the federal government, the cloud will dominate new applications development.

SaaS leads cloud hit parade

The SaaS model allows organizations to rent remotely hosted software applications, paying for only the functionalities and computer cycles used. Applications are accessed through the Internet and a browser-based user interface. The most popular and useful SaaS-based cloud opportunities for federal agencies include collaboration, document management, content management and project management.

Users should mix and match three different types of cloud computing.
ROI of cloud

Although organizations accrue significant savings from all types of cloud solutions, the largest savings tend to be from public cloud implementations. The primary areas where all types of cloud solutions offer the most cost savings are direct labor (typically IT staff), hardware, software and end-user productivity.

If agencies carefully choose the right tactics at the right time for the right mission, they can reap significant financial savings with a move to cloud computing.