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Overcoming Cultural Barriers to Cloud & aaS Adoption

The following post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent industry perspective, Changing the Conversation: The Case for “As-A-Service.” In the brief, we examine five major challenges to aaS and cloud adoption and provide strategies to overcome these barriers. Ultimately, we aim for readers to view aaS and cloud not just as an IT issue, but as a sound business strategy. 

Challenge #5: Culture

Change is difficult for any organization. There can be cultural resistance to a new printer in the office, let alone getting accustomed to operating in an aaS or cloud environment.

“The biggest issue in adopting service-based IT is really internal bureaucracy,” said Michael Fischetti, Executive Director of the National Contract Management Association. “The impediment is within ourselves.”

He explained that many contractors frame cloud computing as a new challenge, when in reality it is just the newest occurrence in a longer trend of new business strategies for acquiring IT and IT services. Failing to frame cloud or aaS as a new manifestation of an older strategy deters many from applying known solutions to the issue such as using the tools already in the FAR as acquisition techniques. As a result, agencies are creating more of the “false obstacles” that Alan Balutis, Director of Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, previously referenced, within the procurement and acquisition regulations.

“People often talk about the difficulties of technology in the backend, but the transition and adoption on the front end is the real struggle,” said Tarrazzia Martin, Senior Adviser for Enterprise Planning & Change Management, Department of Housing & Urban Development. “This is an enterprise capability that needs to be shared, but this is not business as usual for many government employees.”

Martin said that shared infrastructure is a whole new ball game for government. “We hear our IT professionals talk very candidly about the importance of moving to cloud,” she said, “but what we’re struggling with is our customers and our culture. Our culture is not ready for it quite yet.”

How to Change the Conversation

Traditionally, organizations have had separate teams for server, storage and networking capabilities, and have followed conventional acquisition models. For example, if it’s a box, it has to be bought with capital dollars. It is difficult to adopt and adapt to new ways of acquiring IT as a service. The conventional model impedes the evolution of service-based IT which represents comprehensive change and a new and exciting strategy for acquiring IT.

“Cloud is not just an IT issue,” Martin said. “It is a procurement, contracts, budget, facilities and IT effort.” As aaS and cloud become more pervasive throughout government and employees gain a better understanding of that, there will likely be less anxiety and reluctance toward its use. It’s also important to engage stakeholders to promote buy-in.

“Cloud knowledge is not just important to chief information officers, but also to chief acquisitions officers, chief financial officers, budget officers and others,” Balutis said.

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