It’s Past Time for Many Government Agencies to Think Outside the Box

The non-profit Cloud Computing Caucus Advisory Group recently released its report, “Don’t Be a Box Hugger,” discussing the state of cloud computing in the federal government. The review was co-sponsored by Dell, Amazon Web Services, Booz Allen Hamilton and Microsoft.

“Cloud computing represents a tremendous opportunity to dramatically transform how the Federal government manages, processes, and shares information,” Congressman Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11) Founding Member of the Congressional Cloud Computing Caucus noted in the report’s introduction.

The report revealed that many agencies have made progress in transitioning to the cloud, such as moving email, web-hosting, customer relation management systems or procurement applications to the cloud. Yet the bulk have yet to realize the full potential of cloud technology to save taxpayer dollars and improve government operations. Of the $86.4 billion the federal government will spend on information technology in 2015, only about 2.5 percent or $2.1 billion will be spent on the cloud.1

The report groups federal agency IT decision makers into three categories:

  • Cloud pioneers – These are agencies who are consistently looking for new ways to leverage the cloud to advance their missions, save money and improve service delivery. Federal agencies that lead the way in cloud spending in 2014 include the Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Housing and Urban Development. Other pioneers featured in the report include Department of Treasury, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of Defense, General Service Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 2
  • Fence sitters – These agencies take a wait-and-see approach until cloud technology matures. Issues such as data security, internal procurement bottlenecks, budget issues and the psychology of the status quo versus change are major hurdles holding them back. Some also are not convinced of the return-of-investment savings.
  • Box huggers – These are those who just won’t let go of their familiar legacy boxes. They fear loss of control and getting blamed for failure. They like doing things a certain way and prefer to stick with the familiar rather than step out of their comfort zone.

Box huggers are by far the majority. Federal agencies in 2015 spend 69 percent of their IT budgets on legacy systems, an expense that many identify as hindering efforts to spend resources on cloud computing.3 Fence sitters may have moved some of the low-hanging fruit to the cloud (email, collaboration tools, content management), but they choose to hold back until the dust settles regarding the confusion on regards to security, privacy, procurement and control.

At Dell, our partnerships with global brands, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, combined with Dell infrastructure and technology enable us to help you accelerate your cloud opportunities to find better, more efficient, agile and cost-effective ways to deliver services and accomplish mission goals. We can serve as your Dell cloud broker. We can design and install your private cloud. Or we can implement a future-looking cloud for your government agency providing solutions for every circumstance . . . now and in the future. No matter where you are in your cloud adoption, Dell can help you create a secure, integrated cloud environment that’s right for your agency.

A good example mentioned in the report is one of the cloud pioneers, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and a Dell client. We helped them imagine the possibilities of what leaping to the cloud could do for them. In February 2015, they launched a cloud migration to an on-premise, federally compliant private cloud, moving all 450 applications to the new cloud and retiring two data centers in the process.

“We’re focused on helping customers select the right cloud for their unique business needs, including security and compliance. The NRC is a perfect example as it has strict standards and requirements that its systems must support in order to carry out its vital regulatory oversight mission,” said George Newstrom, vice president, Dell Services Federal Group.

NRC’s data consolidation effort will cut costs dramatically by reducing operations and maintenance costs. The transformation also will improve IT efficiency, including reducing downtime because all the applications have been consolidated.4

The report concludes with this closer . . . ‘Peel your fingers off the box. The future isn’t in your data center. It’s in the cloud.’ Enormous opportunities lie ahead. When agencies open themselves to re-inventing processes, adopting new technologies and applying serious soul-searching about how and where cloud solutions can help save money, speed development, improve services and increase mission effectiveness, there’s no limit to what’s possible.

Let us partner with you on that journey. For more information, visit the Dell Federal Services website or contact

1     “Don’t Be A Box Hugger,” Cloud Computing Caucus Advisory Group, pg. 4 graph

2     Ibid, pgs. 18 and 23 graph

3     Ibid, pg. 31 graph

4     Ibid, pg. 28

See also: Cloud as an Enabler of IT Transformation and Innovation and Future-ready Managed Private Cloud

About the Author: Neil E. Seiden