Agencies Stumble on Cloud Migration Journey

For many agencies, cloud computing represents a future not far from a modern IT utopia, where quick-scaling resources and customized data center layouts abound - all with minimal risk. While this reality may indeed await organizations that decide to put their eggs in the cloud basket, not all off-premise initiatives realize their full potential, suggesting that the migration process isn't the quick fix that many have made it out to be. The cloud is without a doubt a game-changer, but IT leaders must recognize that getting there takes time, effort and a bulletproof plan.

Rocky beginnings
Even the most highly publicized, big-ticket cloud programs can encounter obstacles, as shown in a recent article from NextGov. The source highlighted the latest migration woes in the Department of Defense's cloud strategy, noting that an audit revealed many inconsistencies in the execution of the initiative, formed back in July 2012. Spearheading the audit was the Inspector General of the DOD, who argued that a failure to map out the migration plan before the transition began was the root cause of the shortcomings seen across the department's IT footprint.

"This occurred because the DOD chief information officer did not develop an implementation plan that included assignment of roles and responsibilities and associated tasks, resources and milestones," the audit stated, according to FCW. "In addition, the [DOD CIO] did not have a detailed written process for obtaining a cloud computing waiver."

Cloud acquisition training and vendor vetting processes also came under scrutiny of the IG, the source explained, as the DOD lacked sufficient support for the selection and provisioning of the resources it needed to flesh out its cloud aspirations. The audit further revealed gaps in the chain of command from the procurement and implementation processes to the integration support arena, where data center optimization goals are falling flat without strong backing from experts both internal and third-party.

Realigning objectives
While the initial coordinator of the DOD's cloud plan, Teri Takai, has moved on, Terry Halvorsen, who became the acting DOD CIO on May 21, clearly has his work cut out for him as he tries to steer this strategy back on course. As an article covering the story from FierceGovernmentIT explained, the DOD's original cloud plan had clearly-defined parameters and performance indicators meant to help keep migration moving along. Perhaps Halvorsen can look upon the IG's critique of these areas and restructure a strategy to help revamp the effort.

"By failing to execute all elements identified in the cloud computing strategy, DOD may not realize the full benefits of cloud computing, which include cost savings, increased mission effectiveness and increased cyber security," the report said, as quoted by FierceGovernmentIT.

For instance, Halvorsen can look to the Defense Information Systems Agency for assistance with the DOD's billing and helpdesk services, as well as help developing a stronger security profile to ramp up its protective efforts. In addition, strengthening other aspects of its IT department can help refocus its efforts on the cloud, such as implementing a new mobile device management strategy.

Starting again
At the end of the day, DOD's leaders must recognize that something needs to change if they want to exceed expectations for their cloud initiatives - two and a half years is already too long to let inefficiencies plague a promising and expensive program at the federal level. These decision-makers need to use the IG's audit as a wakeup call for their cloud blueprint moving forward. With support from various agencies and other third-party supporters, the DOD will be equipped to finally realize the value of off-premises resources for itself.