45 Percent of Federal IT Officials Say Agencies Not Prepared for Multi-Cloud Future

A strong majority of federal IT decision makers report that their agency is using multiple cloud platforms, but just one in five rate their system’s operations and infrastructure “very good.”

According to an online survey of 150 federal IT officials — including CIOs, CTOs, IT or network administrators — conducted by MeriTalk, Dell Technologies, and Affigent, three-quarters of respondents rank juggling the multi-cloud environment as one of their agency’s top challenges over the next five years. Forty-five percent, though, said their agency is falling behind when it comes to preparing for a multi-cloud future.

While 81 percent already work in multi-cloud environments, 59 percent have a defined strategy while 29 percent hope to have a plan within the next two to five years.

The IT decision makers cited, in percentages all hovering just under 50 percent, increased performance and reliability, reduced costs and risk, security compliance issues and increased flexibility as the top reasons to go multi-cloud.

Naming their top concerns with multi-cloud operations, 41 percent rated security as the key challenge, followed by data governance issues at 38 percent, interoperability issues at 35 percent, regulatory compliance issues at 35 percent, and budget overruns at 32 percent.

While 37 percent rate their multi-cloud services as “very good,” just 21 percent give operations and 20 percent give infrastructure the same kudos.

Sixty-one percent of all respondents represented a civilian government agency, while the rest worked for the Defense Department or an intelligence agency.

“Federal IT managers view employee training and good communication as two of the most important steps to successfully integrating cloud platforms and legacy infrastructures,” noted the report. “…With multi-cloud environments spanning private, public, and edge platforms, interoperability is key. IT leaders need connective, adaptable technologies to avoid data silos.”

Respondents using Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) — 28 percent — were far more likely to express confidence in their agency’s adequate cloud preparation.

More than half of agencies are still in the discovery or planning stages with HCI, 19 percent are implementing and 9 percent say they are already benefiting in areas such as data storage and improved backup and recovery. Eleven percent said their agencies are not considering it.

To prepare their agencies for cloud transition, 42 percent of IT officials reported that they were training the workforce on the multi-cloud environment, 35 percent said they were implementing access controls, 32 percent established a designated leadership team, 31 percent dove into the architecture for integration and flexibility, and 31 percent created user groups to discuss best practices.

The federal government’s Cloud Smart strategy, focused on security, procurement, and workforce goals, has completed 14 of the 22 action items laid out by OMB to accelerate the adoption of cloud technologies. The rest of the steps, including working with the General Services Administration, the Chief Information Officers Council, and the Department of Homeland Security to update the Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) Policy to ensure program objectives can be achieved, are listed as still in progress.

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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