Government cloud integration demands careful planning

Few would deny that cloud computing carries tremendous benefits for organizations in every sector – including the federal government. Increasingly, agencies are facing pressure, both official and unofficial, to achieve greater cloud integration as a means of improving capabilities and cutting costs.

Yet, as Forbes contributor Anne K. Altman, general manager of the U.S. Federal and Government Industries for IBM, recently highlighted, this process includes significant obstacles. To reach effective cloud integration, agencies must carefully plan out their cloud implementation efforts.

All aboard
One of the keys to a successful cloud implementation, according to Altman, is ensuring that management is wholly behind the technological upgrade.

"Public or private, it makes no difference. The success of any technology rollout hinges on management buy-in. With a growing trend such as cloud computing, the process of educating and getting management involved in mapping out cloud policy is crucial," Altman wrote.

She noted that cloud computing is a transformative solution, with the potential for significant business process improvement. While this is obviously advantageous, it also creates an additional hurdle. If implemented haphazardly, without a thorough plan in place, cloud integration may prove disruptive, and employees may resist embracing the solutions. If the management fully supports the effort, though, the rollout can be infinitely smoother.

Security concerns
Another major issue that agency leaders must address when planning a move to the cloud is cybersecurity. For many, this is the single greatest obstacle when it comes to cloud integration, as there is still a widespread belief that cloud computing is inherently less secure than legacy computing solutions. However, numerous technology experts have asserted that the cloud is at least as secure as these traditional models and likely offers superior cybersecurity capabilities when implemented properly.

But despite this state of affairs, the fact remains that there have been a number of significant cloud security issues in recent years, as Altman pointed out. She therefore emphasized the need for agency leaders to address security concerns directly when moving toward cloud solutions. For one thing, she recommended that leaders thoroughly evaluate their available cloud options and choose the deployment that offers the best ability to meet the agency's specific, unique data protection needs.

Additionally, it is important for decision-makers to take into account the views and requirements of everyone who will be affected by the transition to the cloud. After all, if employees are resistant to the new deployment, they may attempt to find workarounds to increase their efficiency. Most workers will choose convenience over security when it comes to new technologies. If this happens, the workers may put government agencies at risk by ignoring cloud security best practices.

By working directly with these personnel, though, agency leaders can be sure to choose cloud solutions and develop strategies that ensure security while also taking into account the actual experience of those who will use the cloud on a day-to-day basis.