Federal cloud integration outpacing state-level progress

The federal government continues to make significant progress toward embracing cloud computing solutions in a wide range of capacities. At the state level, however, cloud integration efforts are lagging behind, FedScoop recently reported.

The news source noted that a number of the country's most prominent public sector CIOs and IT executives recently gathered together at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers' 2014 Midyear Conference in Baltimore. The main topic of discussion was the pace of cloud deployment at the state level, which many agree has not been as quick or steady as they would like. However, all of the speakers agreed that cloud computing would eventually be fully embraced by their state governments.

Cloud in the states
"[The cloud is] very much in a transition to a new way of doing business," said Dugan Petty, who moderated the panel and is a senior fellow at the Center for Digital Government, the news source reported.

Part of the reason why progress has been so stymied is that a great deal of state-level legislation is outdated, explained Jim Sills, Delaware's CIO and Secretary of the Department of Technology and Information. According to the news source, Sills also argued that many state government employees are not familiar with cloud technology, and therefore need to receive significant education and training to fully leverage these solutions. This takes time, further delaying broader cloud integration efforts.

Federal progress
While there are also many challenges to widespread cloud integration at the federal level, progress has been much greater here. The news source noted that federal cloud spending in 2014 was $800 million higher than the Office of Management and Budget's earlier estimate.

Greater efforts are on the way, too. For example, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives recently proposed legislation designed to further increase the use of cloud computing tools within the Department of Defense. To this end, the DOD's CIO would be required to examine cloud security best practices in both the private and public sector to develop a robust, comprehensive, secure plan for DOD cloud integration.

"The DOD must more effectively take advantage of technological advancements, such as cloud technology, but do so in a safe, efficient way," said Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., one of the bill's sponsors, GovInfoSecurity reported. "This legislation will allow DOD to take full advantage of the cloud services and best practices from both the government and commercial sector, which will, in turn, decrease costs, increase accessibility and allow for a more secure system overall."

Advancing states
Yet while the states have not made as much progress as the federal government on this front, there is reason to believe that greater cloud integration will arrive soon.

"Cloud is here to stay, and it's going to develop very rapidly over the next four to five years," said Sills, FedScoop reported.

The news source noted that Delaware has already transitioned 85 percent of its state-owned computing into a virtual infrastructure, putting it ahead of most states.