It has been more than five years since the government has declared its cloud first policy. According to this policy, federal agencies are supposed to assign top priority to cloud service models in terms of new IT related spending.

However, contrary to the highly optimistic cloud-first policy, the response from concerned departments has been lukewarm if the recent findings by Government Accountability Office are to be believed.

In spite of the multiple roadblocks, federal agencies have tried to make a little progress. However there was a considerable lack of exact cost projections to replace conventional systems with much better and more cost effective delivery models based on cloud computing.

In addition to the challenges of cost estimates, there are many more challenges to satisfy federal strategy for cloud computing.

Persistent Security Concerns

Among all issues and concerns that are associated with cloud adoption, security is the prime factor that is relentlessly worrying key decision-makers. Officials from state departments are of the opinion that cloud services are neither able to meet expectations of the department nor they can match real time monitoring ability of the department.

Since cloud lacks visibility in terms of its assets and infrastructure, it is difficult to maintain physical inventory according to officials from treasury department.

Thanks to the stringent review process of FedRAMP, government agencies are now empowered to evaluate security aspects of cloud based services and applications. There are many more ways to evaluate security of cloud services and FEDRAMP happens to be just one among these. However the robustness of the review process makes it optimally rigorous so that leaders and officials from agencies are capable of analyzing cloud vendors.

Cloud vendors are certainly taking all possible steps for achieving security in cloud storage. In addition to these measures, they will be in a better position to offer confidence to government agencies by conforming to requirements of FedRAMP.

Significant Hurdles in Cloud Adoption

Management and procurement continue to be the major challenges in the adoption of much hyped cloud-first policy announced by the U.S. government announced way back in 2010. The overall cloud adoption has also been impacted by concerns about data security in cloud based storage.

During one of the panel discussions that are hosted by Federal News Radio, CIO of National Archives and Records Administration, Marlon Andrews highlighted few of the most significant hurdles that are retarding cloud adoption initiatives.

The unique infrastructure setup makes it difficult to pin accountabilities since there are multiple factors involved in use of cloud services. The roles and responsibilities need to be defined by identifying who is responsible from among the contract staff, application support personnel, and the staff for operation and maintenance of cloud infrastructure. The completely different environment than the client-server setup also adds to difficulties in cloud adoption.

There is also a great amount of confusion regarding definition of the term ‘cloud management’ and roles and responsibilities of responding to and resolving any technical glitches that may present unexpectedly.

There are no concerns as far as writing contracts is considered. However, the real issue is what happens after the contract is in place regarding moving ahead in a support model by satisfying its requirements.

Mutually Satisfying SLAs

For any cloud hosting service provider it pays to polish the edges and corners while designing SLAs that govern smooth business transactions in cloud related services. The contracts must include every possible detail in order to erase ambiguities that may lead to conflict of interests in future.

SLAs need to take into consideration expectations of both parties. It goes without saying that any cloud strategy of an organization or government must presume that every application may not be ideal candidate for cloud adoption. This calls for a cloud native approach to understand ways for managing transition by identifying specific applications that can be shifted to cloud.

Government agencies are therefore exercising caution while trying to implement optimum adoption of cloud by confirming that applications that are being moved to cloud are engineered for the environment.

It is possible to explore maximum advantages of cloud by building exclusive software applications for cloud to existing performance of workloads. The Cloud Advisory Board setup by CIO of Food and Drug Administration is helping with proper identification of applications that can perform in cloud while simultaneously facilitating management of transition.