Cloud Security Continues to Concern Government IT Purchasers

The government IT purchasing to-do list includes secure cloud migration and increased network efficiency as budgets are projected to shrink this year.

by / May 31, 2011

More than seven in 10 government respondents say reduced budgets and a lack of resources are a key challenge this year as it relates to IT purchasing.

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) partnered with research firm Market Connections to conduct the study, Government IT Purchase Plans. They surveyed 375 federal and local IT representatives online beginning in February to delve into agencies’ priorities for technology purchasing. The results were released to CompTIA’s paying member network, but a research brief is public.

The research touched on technology adoption concerns as well as procurement wishes. Forty-four percent of implementers stated that network security is a concern in adoption of cloud computing. Other concerns included security mandate compliance (36 percent), data loss prevention (35 percent) and hardware security (35 percent).

“I think a lot of government agencies are in the same place as the private sector,” said Tim Herbert, CompTIA’s vice president of research. “There is a lot of evaluation and investigation taking place, and there’s experimentation — so moving a noncritical application or an application that does not use sensitive data to the cloud is an approach that many are taking to get their feet wet.”

Security was one of many factors respondents cited as motives for IT spending. Fifty-five percent cited the need to comply with a mandate or regulation as a driver, and 47 percent cited the need to modernize aging legacy systems.

The top five planned purchases were: laptop PCs (48 percent), IT training (44 percent), data backup and recovery solutions (39 percent), servers (37 percent) and security software (37 percent).

The report cites projected budget shortfalls that will prompt governments to adopt cross-jurisdictional relationships for cooperative purchasing. The federal government’s $1.65 trillion deficit on its $2.17 trillion budget will challenge officials, but it likely won’t impede government IT spending significantly, as 2011 federal IT spending is expected to reach $78.5 billion, according to CompTIA.

“There will be some tough choices, and I think when these decisions are being made, [governments] take a hard look at the amount of time and cost that may go into, say, maintaining a legacy system — and it could be substantial,” Herbert said.

The research ranked IT challenges by level of government in various categories. The top five issues were:

  • Reduced budget and lack of resources concerned 70 percent in federal, non-defense; 62 percent in federal defense; 76 percent in state; and 79 percent in local.
  • Resistance to change concerned 76 percent in federal, non-defense; 71 percent in federal defense; 61 percent in state; and 72 percent in local.
  • The rapidly changing technology landscape concerned 52 percent in federal, non-defense; 38 percent in federal defense; 39 percent in state; and 57 percent in local.
  • Outdated IT systems concerned 48 percent in federal, non-defense; 37 percent in federal defense; 45 percent in state; and 49 percent in local.
  • Difficulty coordinating technology with other agencies concerned 48 percent in federal, non-defense; 58 percent in federal defense; 36 percent in state; and 45 percent in local.

“Government readers can view it as a way to measure their agency or their particular locale against a peer group,” Herbert said. “It’s not going to be a perfect comparison but it can provide some general guidance.”

Hilton Collins

Hilton Collins is a former staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines.

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