Change your mindset to successfully move into cloud

Thursday - 7/29/2010, 3:00pm EDT

David Wyld, professor of management, Southeastern Louisiana University

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You've probably heard a thing or two about cloud computing over the past two years, and while some have touted the benefits, others have raised concerns.

David Wyld is a professor of management at Southeastern Louisiana University.

He has been following the cloud computing debate and writes about it often; most recently, he wrote a report for the IBM Center for the Business of Government, Moving to the Cloud: An Introduction to Cloud Computing in Government.

He says for the cloud to work, a lot of minds might need to change, starting with the engineers.

"[It is] getting away from the engineering mentality that the more boxes, the more data centers, the more people in my IT workforce, the more powerful that I am. The new way of thinking in the cloud is going to be -- how can I better deliver services to actual users and citizens."

There is also the perception that in-house always means more secure. This is another mindset that many federal IT managers and employees will have to get out of if they want to move forward.

"What we're finding today is that the cloud providers are going to extreme lengths to provide not just data security, but physical security for their locations. So, in many cases, because it is their reputation, their business on the line, they are doing far better security work than the government is right now."

Overall, he says, there are really three big hurdles to cloud computing, with security being number one.

The secondary issue, though, has to do with the lack of standards and regulations involved with cloud. The third involves controlling mentalities.

It is important for the federal government to overcome this, he adds, because the private sector is moving toward a more outsourced model.

"We're certainly seeing the best practices of the private sector being translated far more quickly into public sector IT. In [recent] remarks, CIO Vivek Kundra used the example of a small start up firm called Animoto, and their rapid scale-up using cloud resources, and [he] compared that to how the government responded in the Cash for Clunkers program. Certainly, there are going to be periods where in intense, ramp up situations -- natural disasters, emergencies and so forth, where cloud computing can really demonstrate its value."

Some have also touted cost savings as why cloud could be so beneficial. Wyld says he doesn't think these savings are going to be realized right away initially because shifting resources can always be costly.

"Over the long term, the cost savings will be there, certainly, and I hazard to guess that overall there will be at least a 20 percent cost savings when you're shifting to buying services over buying technology."

The overall move, though, will better allow agencies to meet the ever-increasing constant demand for information on any device, and that's not all.

"There's also the driver of the fact that the younger workforce is . . . using these social networking tools. They're using cloud tools. They're using remote email, and are expecting that on their job. . . . So I think there's a real driver of this from the changes in the way we work and collaborate and communicate."

David Wyld spoke to Chris Dorobek at a recent Brookings Institute event on cloud computing.

Read more about cloud computing in the federal space at the Fed Cloud Blog.

Email the author of this post at dramienski@federalnewsradio.com