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Survey: Government Is Optimistic About Ditching Data Centers

A new survey from Rackspace Technology has found that government IT officials were more likely than the rest of the respondents to say they see a quick end to owning data centers. But there are obstacles.

The technological reputation of government is old school: ancient servers, outdated operating systems, decades-old software.

But new data suggest something of a turnaround: A just-released survey from Rackspace Technology found that government respondents were more likely to believe the end of their data centers is near than others in the survey. When asked if they believe they will stop owning a data center in the next five years, 60 percent of government respondents said yes, compared with 56 percent of the overall respondents.
The survey included senior IT officials in government and private-sector organizations across the world. The overall response included 1,420 people, of which 16 percent were in the public sector.

Data center consolidation and elimination has been a long, long fight for the public sector. While many CIOs have talked about how expensive and cumbersome data centers are to operate, it can be very difficult and costly to move to the cloud, leading some to invest in data centers or set up private clouds when the need arises.

Further, there are a lot of applications that government officials simply don’t believe could ever move to the cloud, for a variety of reasons. In 2018, the Center for Digital Government* found that 55 percent of county officials believed less than half of their applications could ever move to the cloud.

But necessity is the mother of invention, and the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of minds on the cloud in particular. As government agencies sent workers home and closed offices, many turned to software as a service to perform work remotely, which in turn shifted overall thinking on what the cloud can and can’t be used for in the public sector.

“The cloud is no longer a shiny new object — it is a nearly universally accepted technology, and there is almost no government organization that is not currently in the process of transforming itself via the cloud,” said Rackspace Chief Technology Evangelist Jeff DeVerter in a statement. “At the same time, there are a number of barriers standing in the way of that transformation, most notably a dearth of IT talent. More than ever, government will need to rely on external expertise to achieve their cloud goals, as they continue to shed legacy infrastructure and ask the cloud to do more.”

The survey, titled “The Multicloud Annual Research Report 2022,” was conducted by Coleman Parkes Research on behalf of Rackspace in April 2022.

*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology’s parent company.
Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.