No longer the new kid on the block, cloud computing has proved itself to be a worthy addition to state and local government. Today, more than one-third of IT services are delivered via the cloud, and at least 35 percent of new services will be implemented in the cloud, according to CDW’s Cloud 401 Report, which surveyed more than 1,200 IT professionals. With that growth, however, cloud technology has entered an awkward adolescence as IT leaders contend with the challenges of migration and integration. Chief among them is the difficulty of implementation.
In fact, 59 percent of respondents say they’d use more cloud services, but the complexity involved in enabling and integrating those workloads with legacy systems holds them back.
Other barriers include security, trust in solutions, budget limitations and management support.
“This study provides a clear understanding of where cloud computing is most widely adopted along with the hurdles organizations encounter in adding cloud to their IT mix,” says Stephen Braat, vice president of cloud and managed solutions at CDW.
Going All In
Despite the concerns, cloud has become wildly popular in the public sector. Many states and localities have adopted a cloud-first mantra and consider the platform for everything from email to disaster recovery. And just as rogue wireless access points, personal mobile devices and unsanctioned collaboration platforms have found their way into the organization, cloud storage and applications have joined the ranks of “shadow IT” solutions.
The CDW report finds that in the average cloud-subscribing organization, IT selects and manages only 73 percent of those services, making its mission of enablement and integration even more important. Departments buying cloud services directly include operations, human resources, marketing and communications, finance and legal, among others.
“Cloud services have such great appeal that departments outside IT are often sourcing them independently. But rather than diminishing IT’s role, the data suggests that IT has a more critical role than ever: integrating cloud with traditional services and architecting for reliability and continuity of service, regardless of delivery mode,” says Braat.
IT leaders and outside partners can help speed cloud rollouts. In fact, as organizations gain experience with cloud, they can shrink the deployment cycle. Survey respondents reported that their first cloud project took 14 weeks to implement, from start to finish. Now, the typical cloud implementation takes only 10 weeks, on average, and six weeks or less for more than half of organizations.
In addition to planning the migration, integration and securing data in the cloud, the IT department can set service-level agreements and hold cloud providers accountable. They may also look for a managed services provider to offload some of the administrative burden and offer benefits such as continuous 24/7 monitoring, metered billing, progressively tiered services, management reporting, case-based ticketing, and escalation and application support.