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Federal Agencies Struggle with Cloud Implementation: Report

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Staffing challenges and lengthy procurement processes are the two stumbling blocks for US federal agencies struggling to develop and implement cloud services.

This is the conclusion of a new report, “The Road Ahead: 3 Years After Cloud First,” (PDF) from the Accenture Federal Services and Government Business Council, which examines the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of 286 federal executives regarding cloud services.

“While there are initial challenges in the adoption of cloud computing, it holds the potential to play a major role in increasing government efficiency and service delivery,” Accenture Technology Solutions managing director Annette Rippert said in a statement. “When properly executed, government agencies have much to gain in transitioning to the cloud.”

Among the gains, survey respondents were most concerned about saving money in their agency budgets, but also gaining better data security and increased storage capacity.

The report also suggests that “Cloud First,” a cloud computing strategy created in 2011 to help federal agencies evaluate and procure IT services, isn’t doing enough to encourage cloud adoption. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report shows that only one of 20 cloud migration plans submitted by agencies to the GAO in 2012 was complete, and only 10 percent of agencies have migrated more than half of their IT portfolio to the cloud.

More than half (58 percent) of the individuals surveyed for the Accenture report were not aware of any cloud strategy underway at their agencies. Only 30 percent of survey respondents are implementing cloud strategies, and only 4 percent of those agencies are building new cloud environments. Ten percent of those polled are integrating new and legacy systems to a cloud platform.

More than two thirds of respondents said their agencies lack the necessary skilled staff to execute its cloud strategy. Of those lacking the skills necessary, 31 percent said they would need to hire at least one new employee, and 45 percent said training (costing between $25,000 and $50,000) would be necessary to develop those skills.

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