Guardians of the cloud

Deltek Analyst Derek Johnson reports.

Cloud computing applications and solutions continue to be one of the hottest trends in the public and private sector today. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has paid even marginal attention to the government contracting market over the past two years. Going to the cloud is often cheaper, more efficient and easier to maintain than traditional software, email and storage options. At a time of shrinking budgets and drastically reduced prospects of federal aid, state and local governments are clamoring to implement cloud solutions where practical in order to start reaping financial benefits as soon as possible.

“Where practical” are the operative words in this equation. Information technology departments and their CIOs are anxious to utilize the cloud, but not if it means exposing their records and data to lower security standards. According to a November 2010 survey of 460 government officials by the 1105 Government Information Group, more than half (55 percent) of those surveyed believe cloud solutions are not secure enough, while nearly three-fifths (59 percent) believe traditional IT solutions are safer. A 2011 survey of U.S. business and IT professionals by the Information System Audit and Control Association found that almost half (46 percent) of respondents reported not using cloud computing at all or only for non-mission-critical functions. The number of respondents who believed the risks of cloud computing outweighed the benefits (41 percent) was twice as large as the group that believed the reverse (20 percent).

While concerns about security have diminished as stakeholders learn more about the technology, and industry leaders begin to address those worries, “is it safe” continues to be the number one question asked by governments after “how much money will this save us?” Vendors have to be able to provide satisfactory answers for that first question before they try to hook governments on the potential of the second.

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