Is The Federal Government Moving Fast Enough On Cloud Computing?

Is The Federal Government Moving Fast Enough On Cloud Computing?

Is The Federal Government Moving Fast Enough On Cloud Computing?

At a time when the Federal Government is being congratulated for saving billions by moving to the cloud (See: Research Report: Feds Rejoice the Cloud Way, with $5 bn In Annual Savings), the title of this article may seem somewhat incongruous.

Before I delve into the reasons, let me bring up the topic of variance analysis. According to Wikipedia, “In budgeting (or management accounting in general), a variance is the difference between a budgeted, planned or standard amount and the actual amount incurred/sold….. The concept of variance is intrinsically connected with planned and actual results and effects of the difference between those two on the performance of the entity or company.” In other words, variance is the difference between expected and actual results.

Now, the million-dollar question (or is it a billion?) is what was expected from the Federal government in terms of cloud-related cost savings. Let me draw your attention to yet another report, compiled a year back by the same agency which came up with the $5 billion figure recently. As you can see, the government has fallen woefully short of the projected $14 billion in cost savings mentioned.

Another noteworthy point, is that by May last year, around $3 billion of savings had already been realized. Therefore, an additional $2 billion in 12 months does not seem to be that impressive a figure considering the overall federal IT budget of $80 billion. In light of these observations, it is not unreasonable to ask, “Is the Federal Government moving fast enough on cloud computing?”

Now, we again return to the question of what our expectations from the government are. I had earlier written about the conservativeness of government in adopting new technology, and how the Federal government’s interest is noteworthy in itself – “Since cloud computing is a new technology that still has a lot of doubters, acceptance by the government which has the reputation of being staid, conservative, old-fashioned and resistant to change will definitely make the technology more acceptable to businesses and the public alike”. In this light, $5 billion in cost savings is extremely impressive.

Also, one cannot discount the impact of Vivek Kundra’s departure from the administration. Having been the poster boy for cloud computing in government and the architect of the Cloud First policy, his departure to academia may have slowed down the pace of cloud computing adoption (See: Will Vivek Kundra’s Departure Affect Government’s Flight to the Clouds?).

Taking everything into account, I believe that the Federal Government has done a commendable job, but more remains to be done.

By Sourya Biswas

3 Responses to Is The Federal Government Moving Fast Enough On Cloud Computing?

  1. The government need to redirect more resources to cloud computing to take advantage of efficiencies and in turns more saving. Several Federal agencies can clarify procurement rules to facilitate purchases using measured cloud services or cloud subscription and appropriate solutions  for low, medium and high risk. This can lead to more saving.

  2. @sarojkar
    Re: redirection. Almost too easy to armchair quarterback the transition to cloud. As suggested above, Federal IT’s $5.5 Billion savings looks a bit of a long tail … initial, near immediate savings followed by a slower curve. Rating this against potential almost isn’t fair. The transition to cloud needs to be compared with other historical modernization programs, not potential. About a year ago, HP’s Judy Redman ( pointed out some takeaways/best practices from “Cloud First’. Redman suggests real lasting value might be in its greater objective to implement a massive mind shift in how IT is viewed. The move to public/private/hybrid/converged cloud services is an example of this trend.  Also, criticizing cloud budget savings isn’t unique to the US. There’s a similar debate going on in the UK (see Cloud Tech News –Paul Calento

  3. @pcalento Quite True!! But if we look at some of the very recent reports and survey, overall cloud acceptance and adoption is expected to quite fast across all of federal government. According to a recent study by the MeriTalk Cloud Computing Exchange (, 70 percent of federal employees said they expect the use of cloud apps will increase within the next two years. By 2016, the government is expected to allocate $78 billion for IT solutions. Another study from CDW reveals 41 percent of federal government agencies as of the summer of 2011 had already written plan for using cloud computing. The number will jump to more 32 percent by 2016. One more report from Deltek (, provides some insight on how likely particular department or agency is moving forward with cloud adoption. As per the report, Department of Transportation was ranked at 7.5 while Department of Homeland Security ranked significantly lower at 2.5. Government cloud computing initiatives are expected to continue towards increasing efficiency and cost savings through software and cloud services.

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