US government executives confused about cloud initiatives

August 14, 2012

According to a study from IDC Government Insights, the cloud was viewed as a technology that would have a major impact on a department's future by 90 percent of respondents. Despite this, the knowledge of the future plan for cloud computing was concentrated on the IT side, with many business-side executives left in the dark.

CFO woes
While CIOs and CTOs were well versed in the cloud, agency CFOs were less in the loop. Sixty percent of respondents holding such a position were only slightly aware of the cloud budget they were asked to work with, drawing the ire of the survey conductors.

"In reality, CFOs are often the people who drive their group's transition to the cloud," the report noted. "Because of the potential cost savings associated with the cloud, most CFOs should have a working awareness of how their agency is targeting cloud solutions, even if they don't have detailed technical knowledge related to those systems."

Budgetary concerns
This came even as a study from MeriTalk found that IT was viewed less for its benefits than its costs. Cloud services and mobility are viewed more for their ability to shave dollars off the bottom line than improve on efficiency and open up new avenues for innovation.

Despite this priority, across all respondents to the IDC study, 34 percent did not know the budget, while 23 percent of civilian managers were in the dark on long-term plans. Among those who were aware of the cloud budget, 45 percent claimed it made up between 1 and 10 percent of annual IT spending.

Trust in the cloud
While this lack of knowledge may be concerning to some executives, it did represent a change in the overall opinion of the cloud. Instead of being held back by concerns over cloud computing security, agencies were more willing to embrace the technology and look to reap the benefits. This was a major step forward for government opinion of the technology.

"Significant progress has already been made for cloud service, but overall progress will only accelerate once several important issues have been addressed," IDC research director Shawn McCarthy said.

While programs like FedRAMP are still charged with ensuring the security viability of cloud computing services, those worries are no longer serving as holdups to further adoption. Instead, the report highlights the need to bring all employees in line with the overall plan, as a way for agencies to reap the greatest rewards.

-McAfee Cloud Security