Three factors driving cloud adoption in government

25 March 2013 | Joel Cherkis, General Manager, Worldwide Government

As cloud computing has become mainstream in government, it's easy to lose perspective on how much things have changed. Over the past three years, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in cloud adoption, as more and more governments embrace the technology to operate more cost effectively, enhance services, and embrace more flexible computing models.

But the road to widespread adoption has had its challenges and barriers to overcome, ranging from security concerns to cultural changes. Now that agencies involved in healthcare, defense, and finance—historically slower to adopt new technologies due to the sensitive nature of their work—are embracing the cloud, I often take a step back to think: What’s changed to arrive at this point?

I believe there are three factors that have catalyzed cloud’s momentum in government:

  • Security: As my colleague Kellie Ann Chainier wrote in a recent blog post, a cloud solution is only as good as its promise of security and data privacy. In recent years, there have been great strides made, both in industry and within the public sector, to ensure that cloud technologies meet appropriate levels of security for government. In the United States, for example, the federal government launched the FedRAMP program, which serves as a security clearing house for cloud solutions, helping streamline the security certification process for federal agencies and speed their adoption of cloud solutions. Similarly, Microsoft and other companies are offering resources to government organizations to help them quickly assess the privacy, regulatory compliance, security, and transparency of cloud services. One example is our Office 365 Trust Center. In addition, there has been a significant expansion in the various cloud models offered to government organizations (public, private, hybrid, government-only, etc.), helping meet the unique needs and risk tolerances of diverse agencies.
  • Policy: It’s no coincidence that the leading cloud innovators in government also have policies in place that promote the technology’s adoption. In the United States, we saw this with the cloud-first policy, which mandated that agencies must first consider the cloud when making new IT investments. Similarly, in the United Kingdom, we’ve seen changes in procurement with the G-Cloud Initiative, which has enabled government organizations to more easily procure cloud technologies in support of their missions. 
  • Demonstrated ROI: With some government organizations reporting as much as a 50-percent reduction in IT infrastructure costs by moving to the cloud, among other benefits, the business model of cloud computing has become increasingly hard for public leaders to ignore. There was a great blog on this topic from Joe Scalone, who discussed the impressive savings that many organizations are realizing—including the U.S. Army, which cut costs by more than $100 million in 2011 by moving to a cloud-based enterprise email system.

By understanding the past, we can better predict where cloud computing is headed. And, in government, the future of the cloud looks bright.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Have a question for the author? Please e-mail us at Photo credit: Ahmed Amir.

Joel Cherkis
General Manager, Worldwide Government

Microsoft on Government Blog

About the Author

Joel Cherkis | General Manager, Worldwide Government

Joel leads a team of business development and technology professionals supporting policy decisions and the delivery of relevant and scalable technology solutions into public sector markets around the world. Read more