An increasing number of governmental bodies are adopting cloud technology to enhance efficiency, resilience, and security.

However, achieving maximum benefits from cloud computing requires more than just a basic migration approach. It necessitates dedicated cloud personnel and a tailored public sector cloud strategy to surmount challenges and propel organizational objectives forward.

4 cloud computing challenges for public sector

Public sector organizations face four main barriers to successful cloud adoption. Identifying the barriers that exist in your organization can help you conquer them.

1. Security and compliance requirements

Public sector organizations are accustomed to adhering to various compliance frameworks like HIPAA, PCI DSS, NIST, and FedRAMP. However, transitioning to the cloud introduces the challenge of navigating new regulations while maintaining stringent security standards.

2. Lack of cloud workers

The public sector has historically struggled to attract and retain tech talent compared to the private sector, and this remains a significant issue. Despite an influx of tech professionals into the job market due to industry layoffs, government agencies face hurdles in recruiting and retaining cloud engineers. Factors such as complex hiring procedures, less competitive benefits, and limited flexibility contribute to this challenge. Additionally, legacy technology systems pose an obstacle, as many cloud workers prefer cutting-edge projects and lack the skills or interest to work with outdated systems prevalent in public sector organizations.

3. Acquiring cloud services that meet public sector contract requirements

Cloud computing services typically operate on a pay-as-you-go model, allowing agencies to adjust their usage according to current needs. Public sector entities can utilize indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts to invest in metered services like cloud computing. However, establishing these contracts is often time-consuming and expensive. Moreover, agencies may face scrutiny regarding the selection of cloud service providers eligible for these contracts.

4. Legacy infrastructure spending

Despite the push towards cloud adoption, public sector organizations, including the federal government, continue to prioritize legacy, on-premises systems. Surprisingly, while 54% of public sector CIOs expressed intentions to increase cloud expenditure in 2022, only 35% planned to reduce spending on legacy infrastructure and data center technologies. As long as agencies persist in prioritizing legacy systems, achieving full cloud transformation will remain elusive.

7 cloud computing opportunities for public sector

Despite the challenges, cloud computing still offers opportunities for public sector organizations to enhance their operations. If your agency can think beyond the technology itself to the people and processes that will manage it, you’ll see cloud success.

1. Leverage a shared responsibility model

Cloud service providers implement a shared responsibility model, delineating the infrastructure responsibilities they manage versus those delegated to individual organizations. Embracing this model enables more efficient resource allocation. For instance, if your organization is relieved of managing cloud software or hardware, you can allocate additional technologists to pivotal areas such as cybersecurity. It’s imperative to thoroughly comprehend the shared responsibility model and delineate the respective responsibilities of you and your cloud workforce.

2. Improve regulatory compliance

Agencies frequently view compliance as a hurdle to effective cloud integration. However, it also presents a significant opportunity.

Compliance frameworks aid government agencies in guaranteeing their environments adhere to current restrictions and regulations. In the context of cloud computing, examining a cloud provider’s compliance documentation enables determination of whether their services are sanctioned under a specific framework. Compliance indicates that their services have undergone scrutiny and align with essential requirements.

When evaluating potential cloud providers, ensure they comply with frameworks including:

  • FedRAMP
  • StateRAMP
  • Cloud One and Platform One

3. Implement continuous Authority to Operate (cATO)

The conventional authorization process for new systems typically follows a linear progression: Public sector organizations develop a system, assess its security, authorize it, and then proceed to utilize it.

Although this approach offers a thorough evaluation of a system’s vulnerabilities, it is inherently time-consuming. By the time the authorization process concludes, the system may already be outdated.

Continuous Authority to Operate (cATO) introduces a more agile approach. cATO continually authorizes the underlying cloud infrastructure, systems, and platforms. This empowers agencies to concentrate on capability and code delivery, rather than continually constructing and authorizing new platforms and infrastructure.

4. Enable remote work

The COVID-19 pandemic compelled government agencies to transition to remote or hybrid work setups, leading to the migration of certain operations to the cloud. Presently, over 90% of employees across various industries express a preference for hybrid work arrangements. The undeniable reality is that telework and cloud computing have become permanent fixtures. While adapting to this new paradigm may require some time, remote work initiatives expand the talent pool and offer potential cost savings, such as adjustments to salaries based on the cost of living.

5. Close the cloud skills gap through upskilling

Just fifty percent of technologists possess substantial experience in cloud technology. If you encounter difficulties in recruiting the necessary cloud workers, consider nurturing your existing workforce.

Begin by leveraging free educational resources such as webinars, live streams, blogs, and ebooks. As your technologists, or those aspiring to be, advance in their skills, transition to more advanced learning tools including on-demand courses, instructor-led training sessions, and tailored labs and sandboxes.

6. Drive mission-critical outcomes and impact

Public sector organizations may not match the budget, benefits, and flexibility offered by their private sector counterparts. However, they consistently excel in driving mission impact.

Cloud engineers, in particular, play a vital role in bolstering the national defense of the United States. Initiatives like the U.S. Army’s Enterprise Cloud Management Office (ECMO), the U.S. Navy’s Black Pearl platform, and the U.S. Air Force’s Platform One initiative highlight the significant impact these professionals can make in advancing critical national defense objectives.

7. Acquire cloud solutions faster with already-accepted acquisition guides

Navigating the complexities of acquiring new cloud technologies within the public sector industry can be daunting. Fortunately, some organizations that have undergone this process have developed guides and frameworks to assist other agencies on their cloud journey.

These resources can be invaluable in streamlining your acquisition process. Some notable frameworks include:

  1. Requirements for the Acquisition of Digital Capabilities Guidebook
  2. Adaptive Acquisition Frameworks
  3. CIA C2E award
  4. JWCC award

By leveraging these guides and frameworks, public sector organizations can effectively navigate the regulatory landscape and expedite their adoption of cloud technologies.

Going beyond public sector cloud adoption

For the majority of public sector organizations, the primary concern is not whether to embrace cloud services, but rather how to execute this transition effectively.

By adhering to established acquisition frameworks, crafting a tailored cloud strategy, and enhancing your team’s proficiency in cloud technologies, you can surmount common challenges associated with cloud adoption and achieve enduring success.

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