After two days at the largest Gartner US Symposium ever, with almost 8,000 attendees, and a number of conversations about the use of cloud computing in government, I have the strange feeling that I have been transported back in time to this same location (Orlando) one year ago at our 2010 symposium.
I ran a panel with three distinguished guests for local and federal government, and met three government clients and two vendors in one-on-ones, and I could have had those same exact conversation in October 2010. Here are a few examples:
- The dynamics between CIOs and business executives who ask them why they are not yet using cloud “which is so cheap”
- The hesitation of IT professionals to pursue cloud solution due to security and data sovereignty concerns
- The uncertainties about whether terms of conditions of cloud services can really deliver the promised savings under not-totally-predictable use scenarios
- The budgetary consequences of moving from capital to operational spending
- The lack of maturity of some government organizations in articulating an IT service catalog and service levels to be used as a baseline to decide whether and how to use external cloud services.
- The ambiguity between data center consolidation and virtualization on the one hand, and developing a private cloud on the other hand: I have heard a couple of times terms like “quasi-cloud” or “cloud-like”, as if people felt ashamed to say that they were looking to more traditional delivery models as they could not see the case for cloud yet.
So, while some interesting deployments of cloud services do exist – and our panelists showed that benefits can exceed risks – I have not seen yet any substantial progress from 2011. People keep talking about how wonderful cloud can be, how much money can be saved in the big scheme of things, but these pronouncements seem to be the same we have been hearing for almost two years now.
What is missing are solid TCO, ROI and public value frameworks that help CIOs and other IT leaders determine the real advantages of cloud as a sourcing model, in order to compare it to other, more or less traditional sourcing models (such as hosting, managed services, outsourcing, infrastructure utilities, community and open source, and so forth).