Federal cloud adoption causing data management issues

Cloud integration has been moving forward among federal agencies for quite a while now. Virtually every department has made strides in this area, and more progress occurs every day. It seems only a matter of time until the government is fully on-board with the cloud.

Yet for the time being, this move toward cloud-based systems has not been entirely smooth. As a recent MeriTalk survey highlighted, federal IT managers are struggling with data management in cloud environments, IT Business Edge reported. This suggests that government agencies may need additional third-party support as they continue to accelerate their cloud integration efforts.

Cloud troubles
The news source noted that the survey, which included 153 participating IT professionals from federal agencies, found that 89 percent of respondents were at least somewhat apprehensive about the possibility of losing control of their IT services. Such fears are almost certainly due to the growing prevalence of cloud-based solutions in the government. 

Furthermore, the MeriTalk survey found that more than 40 percent of participating IT pros felt that their cloud-based data integration management efforts were unsuccessful to some degree. Considering the fact that cloud adoption and migration depend heavily on smooth data integration, this figure puts into perspective the severity of the federal government's cloud adoption problems.

Participating IT professionals also emphasized that their agencies are struggling when it comes to data governance in the cloud. Specifically, 61 percent indicated that they lack high-quality, documented metadata, and 50 percent could not identify data owners. Fifty-two percent of participants said their organizations do not have well-understood data integration processes, the news source reported.

The sole piece of good news embedded in the MeriTalk survey, according to IT Business Edge writer Loraine Lawson, is that the majority of respondents said they are currently working to develop and implement more effective, formal data governance policies for cloud services. This suggests that while many agencies are struggling with these issues now, better results may be on the horizon.

Relationship issues
There are undoubtedly a large number of contributing factors that undermine data governance and integration efforts among federal agencies. However, the survey revealed that one of the most significant of these is the lack of communication and trust that exists between federal agencies and their cloud service providers. 

"Federal agencies aren't working closely with vendors to resolve problems," Lawson explained. "That could be because these solutions have come on-board on an ad hoc basis via the lines of business, but cause wasn't examined."

Consequently, MeriTalk recommended that federal agencies take steps to work more closely with their cloud vendors, so as to better achieve effective integration and migration.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Federal agencies typically rely upon extremely complex infrastructures. Making matters more difficult, these departments are responsible for crucial, sensitive data. This means that agency leaders need to be careful when deciding which vendors to partner with and also exceedingly cautious during the migration process. All of this makes finding the right cloud services provider particularly challenging and important. 

Yet it is certainly possible, especially when agencies work directly with third-party cloud integration and data center consolidation service providers. Specifically, government IT managers and other decision-makers should look for firms that have extensive experience working in the public sector, guiding organizations throughout the cloud integration process. Agency leaders should be on the lookout for companies that have proven reputations for delivering customized solutions and end-to-end support – simply assisting with deployment alone is not enough. As time passes, new issues will arise, and agencies need to have partners they can turn to and count on to respond to all cloud complications quickly and effectively.