Is the cloud a fad?

With all talk about the cloud over the past few years, some people and organizations have accepted it as part of the technology landscape. Other people, however, believe the cloud is a fad, like MySpace was, and will go away in the near future. In an article at gcn.com, however, Scott Renda, the cloud computing and federal data center portfolio manager for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), says that he believes the cloud is decidedly not a fad.

This is despite the fact that the Federal government only spends about $3 billion dollars out of its $80 billion IT budget on cloud services. This pales in comparison to the global outlay of about $158 billion on cloud services. The government’s reliance on cloud infrastructure is increasing however, as we’ve mentioned in previous posts.

The OMB’s cloud-first initiative is 4 years old at this point and still going. This policy is the main driver for government spending on cloud infrastructure even though it’s not the only driver. Other drivers include mobile apps, social media, big data, and data center consolidation. But the cloud-first initiative makes cloud-based solutions the default solution for new government IT projects as long as a services exists that meets the security requirements.

Security certification of public cloud providers for use by the government is handled by the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). FedRAMP will certify a cloud provider for use by the Federal government if it meets certain security requirements laid out in the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). This certification process ensures that regardless of what cloud service provider a government agency uses, there is a minimum set of security safeguards and processes in place.

The FedRAMP certification process is only required when an agency or department wants to use a public cloud provider. Only about 20% of the government’s current spending on cloud services is for public clouds. The overwhelming majority of government agencies choose to go with private clouds (75% of the spending). The rest (a growing minority) choose to go with hybrid systems that combine the two.

Interestingly, the article says that one of the primary reasons and benefits for going to the cloud is to improve government IT security. This is, obviously, true, but is often drowned out by the financial savings, the increased efficiencies, more effective workers, etc.

So the government is forging full-steam ahead toward cloud-based systems, spending more year-over-year, to improve security, efficiency, productivity, and decrease costs. The cloud’s not going away, it’s only getting stronger. Take that into account if you’re considering buying or implementing a cloud-based document management system.

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