7 agencies make progress on implementing 'cloud first,' GAO says

Friday - 7/13/2012, 6:42am EDT

Seven selected agencies have made progress in putting into practice the "cloud first" policy instituted by the Office of Management and Budget, according to a recently released report by the Government Accountability Office.

GAO found that the Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State and Treasury departments and the General Services and Small Business administrations had all implemented the cloud computing requirements as part of their policies and processes.

OMB established its cloud first policy in December 2010, requiring agencies to utilize cloud-based solutions "whenever a secure, reliable, and cost-effective cloud option exists," the report states. Agencies were also expected to migrate three of their technology services to the cloud by June 2012.

In February 2011, the seven agencies GAO reviewed had identified three technology services to migrate to the the cloud and successfully implemented at least one by the following December.

Five of the agencies had migrated all three technologies by the June 2012 deadline that OMB had set. The two remaining agencies expect to meet OMB's migration requirement by year's end.

Examples of agency services migrated to the cloud include email and production infrastructure at DHS and correspondence tracking and IT power management at GSA.

In addition, each of the agencies identified other services, such as a customer service help desk and data storage, that could be moved to the cloud in the future.

The GAO listed seven common challenges that agencies faced in implementing OMB's cloud first policy:

  1. Meeting Federal Security Requirements
  2. Obtaining guidance
  3. Acquiring knowledge and expertise
  4. Certifying and accrediting vendors
  5. Ensuring data portability and interoperability
  6. Overcoming cultural barriers
  7. Procuring services on a consumption (on-demand) basis.

As part of the report, GAO made recommendations to each of the seven agencies in how to establish key planning information for implementing cloud first. These include setting cost and performance goals and retiring legacy systems for the services that have been migrated to the cloud.

RELATED LINKS:

Obama budget reiterates cloud-first policy

White House adopts 'cloud first' policy

OMB announces 'cloud first' policy for agencies