Is the Government Truly Ready for the Cloud?

2013 has been a good year for cloud computing as the sector has grown substantially. Industries big and small seem willing to adapt to the new technology however the government seems to be lagging behind. While the CIA has contracted Amazon to build out its private cloud, other Information Officers within different parts of the US government remain skeptical because of how the cloud aligns with the specific needs of their department.

Gary Sterrenberg, an information officer within the Department of Human Services recently voiced his concerns at a conference in Australia about cloud companies. He felt like many cloud companies were just rebundling outsourced services and slapping the cloud label on the service. Mr. Sterrenberg reiterated that only a couple of companies could provide cloud services that really functioned as a service. In relation to the government, this type of outsourcing cannot occur.
Sterrenberg was quoted as saying, “If you lose an identity, you can be sued for millions. So is the cloud vendor prepared to take accountability for the lawsuit that will come?” Glenn Archer is an Information Officer for the Australian Government. He also discussed government accountability and how it related to the cloud. He was noted as saying, “At the end of the day, government is not entirely like large corporate … government is expected by citizens to be there forever, to be reliable and a stable provider of the services that they expect.”
Archer and Sterrenberg went on to discuss how the government doesn’t fully trust the cloud because if the cloud goes down or if there is an interruption in service, the government can do little to nothing to rectify the outage except wait on the vendor to bring the cloud back up. Since the government typically operates systems that are critical to the people who live there, an unplanned outage or data breach by a third party vendor could impact a service that people depend upon. Once the cloud can bridge that gap, expect governments to remain apprehensive about cloud services.