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FCW : January 2016
DAVID WENNERGREN is executive vice president of operations and technology at the Professional Services Council. Commentary | DAVID WENNERGREN In December, the Professional Services Council released a report titled “Best Practices for Federal Agency Adoption of Commercial Cloud Solutions,” which highlights the compelling value proposition of transitioning to a commercial cloud provider and provides specific best practices to help ensure success. The report also highlights real- world examples to build confidence that agencies can successfully move to the cloud. The fact that a report advocat- ing migration to the cloud is still needed is worth discussing. While we should rightly applaud the bold moves to the cloud — including by agencies with highly sensitive missions, such as the CIA and the National Reconnaissance Office — there are still reluctance and slow adoption at a number of agencies. PSC’s 2015 CIO Survey noted that only 8 percent of federal CIOs were satisfied with the level of progress their agencies had made in imple- menting cloud-based solutions. There are clearly change manage- ment challenges that still require our attention. Giving up personal control is hard for all of us, so it should be no surprise that agencies feel more comfortable owning their own infrastructure, data centers and systems. But this false sense of security needs to be cast aside. Now. Aging and obsolete infrastruc- ture and systems at some agencies preclude adoption of 21st-century technology and dramatically increase cybersecurity vulnerabili- ties. Despite agencies’ qualms about relying on someone else to deliver capabilities, if done correctly, a cloud solution can offer better secu- rity than the porous environment found in too many places today. Moving to the cloud also address- es the difficulty of having to obtain hard-to-find development and modernization funds to buy and build new systems. Frankly, the value proposition of paying only for what you use has never been more compelling. It’s been five years since the Office of Management and Bud- get issued its “cloud first” policy. It’s time to pick up the pace and embrace the change that will accelerate the retirement of equip- ment that is no longer supported and improve the security of our information and systems. As the report notes, the willingness to stretch beyond our comfort zone and embrace consumption-based contracting and service-level agree- ments will pay big dividends. December also saw the release of a white paper endorsed by the Technology Councils of North America, the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the California Technology Council and PSC titled “Delivering Results: A Framework for Federal Government Technol- ogy Access and Acquisition.” Those four associations — representing a variety of communities, including thousands of start-ups — agree on a set of common principles to ensure access to the full array of capabili- ties that exist in the private sector and could enhance the performance of federal technology programs. Although there is great enthu- siasm for more engagement with Silicon Valley, it is important to understand why some start-ups don’t want to do business with the government. And we must never lose sight of the fact that innova- tion isn’t limited to a geographic location but rather is available from both established companies and new entrants nationwide. The white paper touches on several of the same themes that the cloud report does. Govern- ment’s success is enabled by using contracting practices that reward rather than discourage new ideas and approaches. Embracing indus- try best practices, such as cloud, and adopting outcome-based mea- sures to track the progress of our plans will allow the government to harness technology to deliver more effective mission results. n Truly committing to innovation and the cloud Despite the widely recognized value proposition of cloud computing, many agencies still struggle to make the move, which hampers modernization, cybersecurity and innovation Government’s success is enabled by using contracting practices that reward rather than discourage new ideas and approaches. 14 January 2016 FCW.COM 0116fcw_014.indd 14 12/21/15 9:34 AM
November and December 2015