Although federal agencies are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of moving to the cloud—including the ability to provide more available, reliable and secure operations—adoption continues to remain slow, according to a new report by MeriTalk, a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of government IT.
The study, The Agile Advantage: Can DevOps Move Cloud to the Fast Lane? underwritten by Accenture Federal Services, is based on an online survey of 152 federal IT managers familiar with their agency’s cloud adoption in February and March 2015.
The study revealed that in addition to budget and security concerns, infrastructure complexity and cultural barriers are also preventing federal agencies from migrating to the cloud as quickly as anticipated. Nearly half of respondents cited infrastructure complexity as a top challenge to adopting cloud, followed by fear of change, inflexible practices and lack of clear strategy.
To mitigate these challenges, the report examined whether DevOps—a software engineering innovation that leverages a combination of complex delivery experience and proprietary tools—can drive agencies to the cloud. Approximately two-thirds of respondents say DevOps will help agencies move to the cloud faster.
The respondents stated that adopting a DevOps model could increase deployment speed and standardization, provide a repeatable systematic approach to software development verses the ad hoc current environment, and improve collaboration and communication between IT development, security and operations teams.
“A DevOps model brings software engineering, quality assurance, and IT operations together as an integrated team,” said Accenture Federal Services’ chief technology officer Tim Hoechst. “Federal agencies can startup new projects more quickly, improve resource utilization, and reduce downtime – ultimately driving the innovation needed for real change.”
However, while DevOps is a growing focus in the private sector, just one-in-five federal IT managers are very familiar with it today. Moreover, while 60 percent of the federal IT managers familiar with DevOps can see the software in their agency’s future, just five percent say their agency has fully deployed the DevOps model.
To implement DevOps, the respondents recommended that agencies train current personnel, establish a new vision for the future, and incentivize a change in culture.
The report echoed the concerns outlined in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published last year. As Homeland Security Today previously reported, GAO found that although federal agencies continue to increase the percentage of their IT budgets allocated to cloud services, only 2 percent of government agency IT budgets go to cloud spending, resulting in agencies capturing only a fraction of potential cost savings.
The evaluated agencies identified five challenges to implementing cloud computing services: meeting new network infrastructure requirements, having appropriate expertise for acquisition processes, funding for implementation, meeting federal security requirements and overcoming cultural barriers.
“We’ve heard a lot about cloud barriers, and we’ve all seen the lackluster GAO cloud spending data,” said MeriTalk founder Steve O’Keeffe. “This study highlights a viable path forward. DevOps can help agencies change lanes and shift from inefficient silos to a dynamic, collaborative environment. It’s about people and how they work together, as well as the technology they use.”