Government and Cloud – Their Journey to the Altar

cloudsIf you work for or with the government and you care about the cloud, you’ve probably already read the recent MeriTalk report, “Cloud Without the Commitment”. As well, you’ve probably also read numerous opinions about the report. In fact, one of Informatica’s guest bloggers, David Linthicum, just posted his thoughts. As I read the report and the various opinions, I was struck by the seemingly, perhaps, unintentional suggestion that (sticking with MeriTalk’s dating metaphor) the “commitment issues” are a government problem. Mr. Linthicum’s perspective is “there is really no excuse for the government to delay migration to cloud-based platforms” and “It’s time to see some more progress”, suggesting that the onus in on government to move forward.


I do agree that, leveraged properly, there’s much more value to be extracted from the cloud by government. Further, I agree that cloud technologies have sufficiently matured to the point that it is feasible to consider migrating mission critical applications. Yet, is it possible that the government’s “fear of commitment” is, in some ways, justified?

Consider this stat from the MeriTalk report – only half (53%) of the respondents rate their experience with the cloud as very successful. That suggests the experience of the other half, as MeriTalk words it, “leave(s) something to be desired.” If I’m a government decision maker and I’m tasked with keeping mission critical systems up and sensitive data safe, am I going to jump at the opportunity to leverage an approach that only half of my peers are satisfied with? Maybe, maybe not.

Now factor this in:

  • 53% are concerned about being locked into a contract where the average term is 3.6 years
  • 58% believe cloud providers do not provide standardized services, thus creating lock in

Back to playing government decision maker, if I do opt to move applications to the cloud, once I get there, I’m bound to that particular provider – contractually and, at least to some extent, technologically. How comfortable am I with the notion of rewriting/rehosting my mission-critical, custom application to run in XYZ cloud? Good question, right?

Inevitably, government agencies will end up with mission-critical systems and sensitive data in the cloud, however, successful “marriages” are hard, making them a bit of a rare commodity

Do I believe government has a “fear of commitment”? Nah, I just see their behavior as prudent caution on their way to the altar.