by Sam Peters on 26/02/12 at 6:48 pm
Cloud computing is all the rage these days, a fact that should come as little surprise to those of us who manage business software solutions. After all, for its ability to maximize efficiencies, create internal systems of communication, secure limitless amounts of storage, and even reduce an office’s paper consumption, cloud computing offers considerable advantages and savings to the average business enterprise.
The popularity of cloud computing has pushed its adaption across numerous industries and sectors, a move that has resulted in a significant global hiring spree, according to the London School of Economics. But now it is poised for adaption by perhaps the largest enterprise in the world: the U.S. federal government. Now that the FedRAMP Program, which establishes a federal framework for cloud computing, has been initiated, the General Services Administration estimates that a massive government cloud system will be implemented over the next few years. This would reflect one of the most rapid federal adoptions of a new technology in recent memory.
While the government has not yet implemented this cloud computing system, the plan and the directives are already in place for the world’s largest cloud application. This application will likely serve as a model for computing intiatives for years to come — either as a large-scale failure or a big-time success. On that note, it is important that enterprises in the private sector keep a close eye on the development of the government program. What, then, can your business learn from the federal model? Here are a few key lessons we can gain thus far:
- Third-party security. It goes without saying that the government is deeply concerned about the security implications of a cloud computing system. It has looked to address these concerns by turning to the securest possible platforms and the best encryption and data storage approaches. The government has also determined that its cloud security will be monitored by a third party: the Department of Homeland Security. While your enterprise’s privacy concerns may not interest Homeland Security, analysts agree that the third-party monitoring route is the way to go if you have significant security needs.
- Rapid adoption. As aforementioned, the federal adoption of cloud computing will far exceed the pace at which it adopted email, internet use, and other modern technologies. In fact, the Obama administration has given a “cloud first” edict to all federal IT purchases and decisions. At a time when there are limitless pressing concerns across the federal government, this emphasis underscores the benefits – and the savings – that a “sooner rather than later” approach to cloud computing can bring. If your business has not yet made the move, now is the time to change that and enter the cloud.
- Hiring practices. While the government can be commended thus far for its approach to security and its push for rapid implementation, all signs point to a weakness in its cloud-related hiring practices. So far, management of the federal cloud program has been given to veteran administrators and IT workers who have tremendous experience but less cloud expertise. Studies have shown that, when it comes to cloud computing, having creativity, flexibility, and a fresh insight are often vital characteristics in a new and fast-changing line of work. These are traits that the government – and any given business – should seek out when hiring people to manage its cloud. With such traits in mind, many businesses have turned to unconventional interview practices when trying to weed out creativity and flexibility in the interview process. The government, however, has stuck to a more traditional hiring approach.
These are the main lessons we’ve learned thus far from the federal government’s move towards cloud computing. While the government has demonstrated an impressive commitment to security and implementation, it may not be targeting the right personnel to help adapt its cloud program to the inevitable changes and advancements that are to come. The private sector can take away important lessons from the government initiative. How does your business’ cloud program compare to the federal plan? Where is it working and where can it be improved? These are important questions to ask over the next few years.