Misperceptions wrongly keeping government CIOs from cloud computing: Ovum

By GovTechReview Staff
Thursday, 09 May, 2013

A surfeit of often unclear or incorrect information about cloud computing is driving many government CIOs to unnecessarily tilt the playing field against the adoption of cloud services, an Ovum analyst has warned.

Arguing that risk-averse government cloud policies tend to make government bodies so nervous about buying a ‘bad’ cloud service that they buy none at all, research director Steve Hodgkinson warned that many organisations are instead ending up with an even worse outcome: sticking with existing, inadequate and outdated systems that impede opportunities to revisit business processes and improve overall productivity.

“The logic of government cloud computing policy usually starts with the implicit assumption that cloud services are risky, ill-defined and unproven,” he said in a statement. “Cloud services adoption in government faces resistance caused by procedural, organisational and cultural inertia.”Ovum-SteveHodgkinson

Even confusion about the correct terminology is diluting the effectiveness of the cloud message, Hodgkinson warned.

For example, many executives persist in speaking about ‘the cloud’ as though it were some massive, nebulous, omnipresent thing. But policy should, he explained, refer to a ‘cloud service’ – ‘a tangible service delivered on a professional basis by a trustworthy external service provider’.

“Cloud services are just shared services that work,” Hodgkinson said.

Another important distinction to make is between ‘cloud computing’ – the suite of infrastructure, virtualisation, automation, self-service portals and multi-tenant architectures used to deliver a cloud service – and a ‘cloud service’, which is a specific combination of processes, people, organisation and technology designed and delivered as a specific service.

If government executives learn the differences between these concepts and subsequently get a better grasp of the relevant concepts, they can avoid the mistakes that have plagued many agencies as they considered early adoption of cloud solutions.

Recognition of not only the risk inherent in adopting a cloud solution, but of the risk inherent in not adopting a cloud solution, must be compared in business cases to help organisations make rational, well-informed decisions as to the best way to proceed.

“The risk of procuring a ‘bad’ cloud service is relatively low and can be contained by well-established risk-management mechanisms and shorter contract terms,” Hodgkinson writes, noting that deferring a potentially-useful cloud service runs the risk of “a deferred or missed opportunity for productivity improvement and innovation in policy and service delivery.” – David Braue

Hodgkinson’s full opinion piece is available here. Hodgkinson is also a regular contributor to Government Technology Review; subscribe for more of his government-sector insights.

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