In 2009, then Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra announced the Cloud First Policy, in which the Obama administration declared that the government would become a bit more reliant upon advanced technologies and overhaul its current IT frameworks. The reasons behind this shift were very similar to those cited by many small businesses and other members of the private sector, in that government agencies were simply spending too much on IT capabilities that were relatively outdated.
Back when the strategy was first created and launched, public sector officials estimated that the plan could actually lead to an 80 percent reduction in spending over time for data centers and other core infrastructure needs through the use of cloud services. In the time since, many agencies have already made the necessary adjustments to be more firmly rooted in cloud computing technologies, leading to fewer expenditures and a higher level of IT power in the process.
Technological innovation and evolution have accelerated significantly in the past few years, giving the government and the private sector a greater diversity of options, as well as responsibilities, that must be recognized in real-time to truly capture the optimal power of computing frameworks. Security, mobility and analytics have converged to increase the importance of cloud services utilization among public sector entities, while departments are becoming more intelligent, agile, productive and lean amid the new deployments.
In the coming years, many expect the government to become more involved in legislative overhauls that will guide deployments of cloud computing technology in the private sector, all the while boosting the transparency of its agencies' uses of new technologies. A new report has identified some of the trends that are taking shape in the public sector, as well as what IT leaders are expecting for the future in this arena.
TechAmerica recently released the results of its 2014 Federal CIO and CISO Survey for which it interviewed 59 IT leaders from 32 federal organizations over the course of five months, while this was the 24th iteration of the study. Not surprisingly, the most common priorities cited by those who participated in the survey were cybersecurity, IT operation modernization efforts, mobility and cloud migrations.
Considering the rapid increase in both data breaches and subsequent identity theft crimes that come once information falls into the wrong hands, cybersecurity will likely continue to be the single highest priority among these organizations for years to come. Additionally, the public sector often handles highly sensitive information such as military and health care data, which must be protected at all costs.
According to the analysts from TechAmerica, modernization and innovation are likewise moving upward on the priority list, while cloud computing and mobility capabilities appear to be major vehicles for other types of deployments, which has also been the case in the private sector. In terms of budgetary allocations, public sector organizations might be shifting away from the common line of thinking that is currently present among most businesses.
For one, TechAmerica found that 37 percent of IT budget is going to operations and maintenance of existing systems, while 11 percent is allocated toward modernization efforts and 16 percent for new systems development. An estimated 13 percent of IT spending is comprised of cybersecurity-related matters, while 23 percent is being used to expand infrastructure for telecommunications and data center purposes.
The researchers also pointed out that nine out of every 10 CIOs surveyed stated that they are using the cloud for at least some basic functions, while the split between public and private models is 48 percent to 52 percent, respectively.
Looking ahead, TechAmerica gave a few recommendations for the average CIO in the public sector.
"CIOs also need to continue to improve delivery of federal IT to take us into an era where citizens and federal employees can seamlessly and securely use mobile devices to do their jobs," the analysts explained. "While advances have occurred, failures like healthcare.gov and CIOs' own acknowledgement that they aren't mature enough to achieve the benefits of agile point to a need for continued improvement in how they develop and implement major IT programs. They also need to lead their enterprises to improve data analytic capabilities."
Small business takeaways
The public sector, at least in terms of its approach to IT management and new technology utilization, is very similar to private industries in the modern era. Small business owners can take a lesson from the ways in which leaders of government agencies are going about their technology deployments, especially considering the increased need for transparency, security, efficiency and effectiveness.
By tailoring corporate IT provisioning and budgetary allocation strategies to a combination of short and long-term goals, such as increased resilience to data breach, stronger mobile enablement or system modernization, small businesses will quickly see the power of cloud services and other advanced investments in the technology arena.