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Study Reveals Biggest Barrier to Cloud Adoption

The perennial concern with cloud adoption is security, according to the survey, but 70 percent of respondents also said they believe security will become less of a concern by the end of the year.

Cloud adoption in government is increasing, and the reasons are many: Adopting cloud services can lend an organization greater flexibility and agility, and save it dollars. But for those C-level executives who aren’t adopting, it's not because they're being stubborn or encountering significant barriers to adoption: A new study suggests that the "barriers" encountered may primarily be psychological, as the technology is catching up to business need.

The survey from HyTrust, called the State of the Cloud and Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) 2016, was given to 500 C-level and vice president executives who lead medium- and large-sized organizations, mostly in the private sector, and found that 70 percent of respondents believe cloud services will see increased adoption over the next year. In addition, 60 percent of respondents see that adoption being deployed more quickly than it has been in the past.

Though the survey included just nine government IT personnel, Fred Kost, HyTrust's senior vice president of marketing, said these findings are just as pertinent, if not more so, for government.

“Governments are under tremendous cost pressure, in some cases more than enterprises, to cut costs and streamline IT,” Kost said. “So some of these SDDC and cloud options provide tremendous options for them to not only cut costs, but they’re under the gun for skill and people, and so if they can leverage some of this technology to get more agility, it’s very helpful.”

The study found that the perennial concern executives have with cloud adoption is security. About 67 percent said security concerns will slow cloud migration, while 55 percent predicted more data breaches and security problems.

But there’s a hitch in the data: Despite these concerns, about 70 percent said they believe security will become less of a concern for cloud services by the end of the year. This disparity, Kost said, is the result of a mismatch between the technologies that are available to solve security problems and the prevailing attitudes about cloud’s ability to be secure.

“There seems to be more of a perception issue with the cloud,” Kost said. “I think they are finding there are ways to address some of their concerns."

For instance, he said that for people worried about protecting their information from government's adoption of public cloud, there are many encryption options. "That’s one aspect," Kost said. "The other one is that as people come to understand the risk and the opportunities of that perception issue, it kind of chips away at it. That’s more of an organizational dynamic: talking to people, getting organizations to talk to each other and understanding the solutions.”

Whether real or perceived, security concerns are particularly prominent when it comes to software-defined data centers, a concept that extends virtualization and cloud delivery to IT functions that business leaders are familiar with as physical assets like networking and storage.

To predict the future of the cloud in government, one need only look at the private sector’s recent past. A 2015 report from cloud automation vendor RightScale found that 93 percent of organizations are using or experimenting with cloud-based infrastructure. As cloud options mature and grow in number and as the market gains increased support from the likes of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, government is likely to follow suit.

Colin wrote for Government Technology and Emergency Management from 2010 through most of 2016.