Department of Defense (DoD) agencies have obtained significant benefits from moving to the cloud, including agility, savings and security. However, budget constraints are standing in the way of moving more applications to the cloud, according to MeriTalk, a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of government IT.
The report, DoD’s Move to the Cloud: Box it Up or Build New? underwritten by General Dynamics Information Technology, examined where agencies stand in their transition to the cloud based on a survey of 150 federal IT professionals from DoD and Intelligence agencies.
The report revealed that in an ideal scenario DoD agencies would like to move 57 percent of their applications to the cloud by 2020 but believe budgets will allow just 24 percent of applications to make the transition.
So far, over half of DoD’s cloud applications have been migrated from legacy apps and 43 percent have been built new in the cloud. Looking forward, agencies face the decision of whether to migrate or build new as the preferred long-term strategy.
Nearly all of the surveyed DoD IT professionals see major benefits to building new verses migrating a legacy application. The principle benefits include security, speed of deployment, ability to eliminate redundancies, savings, ease of replacement and opportunity for automation.
“Both approaches – migrating legacy applications and building new in the cloud – have their meritsand their place. Against the backdrop of tight budgets, agencies must take time to complete a full analysis of each application’s needs before pulling the trigger to ensure they make the best decision from a cost and performance perspective,” said Stanley Tyliszczak, vice president technology integration and chief engineer, General Dynamics Information Technology.
Migrating legacy systems continues to be challenging for federal agencies. A report by MeriTalk released earlier this year, Cloud Without Commitment, underwritten by Red Hat and Cisco, revealed that more than half of federal cloud users say cloud/legacy system integration is a barrier to migration.
Moreover, last month Homeland Security Today reported on the Congressional Cloud Computing Caucus’ inaugural report, Don’t Be a Box Hugger, which revealed although federal agencies are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of moving to the cloud, many remain tied to legacy technologies. So called “Box Huggers” are afraid to let go of their hands-on control of their servers and data, making it difficult for agencies to transition to the cloud.
In response, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) commented, “American taxpayers deserve more for their hard-earned dollar than yesterday’s technology tomorrow. They deserve value, and cloud technology is all about value – paying for computing power when you need it, rather than designing everything for maximum use or worst-case scenarios.”
While 52 percent of those surveyed in MeriTalk’s latest report believe building new is a smarter long-term move, with just 18 percent in favor of migrating legacy applications, there are a number of drawbacks to building new. Lack of funding (43 percent), integration challenges (41 percent), and length of time needed to develop requirements and launch (34 percent) are the biggest hurdles to the approach.
Interestingly, DoD IT managers are more likely to recommend building new than their staff. Moreover, managers are also more likely than their IT staff to say that building a new app in cloud is more cost effective than migrating.
With the goal of moving more than half of applications to the cloud by 2020—with a budget that allows for considerably less—prioritization will be critical moving forward. Realistically, DoD expects budgets will allow just 24 percent to transition, with 11 percent migrating and 13 percent building new.
“When it comes to cloud, it appears you can’t have it all,” said MeriTalk founder Steve O’Keeffe. “Tight budgets require tough decisions – agencies must prioritize apps that will move the needle rather than just batting down the low-hanging fruit. Building new will allow them to drop a lot of legacy baggage for greater agility.”