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Feds Rest Their Digital Transformation Hopes on the Cloud

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Digital transformation’s effects are rippling well beyond the corporate sector.

Like most businesses, the U.S. federal government is being forced to evolve their IT operations to accommodate today’s mobile- and cloud-enabled workstyles (and lifestyles). A recent survey from Dell EMC, conducted by Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), reveals that most agencies are rising to the occasion.

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Cloud computing is the biggest spending priority (68 percent) among the 100 federal IT and business decision makers polled by the firms, followed by data storage (64 percent). Ninety-one percent of respondents described the cloud as an important technology trend. Federal agencies are also keeping a close eye on mobility and big data.

And major IT vendors have noticed.

Last month, Microsoft announced an expansion of its Azure government cloud business. Next year, the company will open two new cloud datacenters, one in Arizona and another in Texas, specifically for government customers.

In 2011, leading cloud provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced a dedicated government offering dubbed AWS GovCloud. The cloud solutions suite enables agencies to deploy cloud services that adhere to the U.S. federal government’s strict security standards.

This past summer, Amazon announced that GovCloud had earned a major seal of approval from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

In June, the company announced its government cloud had been cleared for Impact Level 4 workloads as specified in the Defense Department’s Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide. “By achieving this, we are continuing to allow the DoD to utilize AWS to run their production Impact Level 4 workloads in the AWS environment, including, but not limited to, export controlled data, privacy information, protected health information, and other information requiring explicit CUI [Controlled Unclassified Information] designation, such as electronic medical records or munitions management systems,” stated the company in a June 25 announcement.

“Federal agencies largely appreciate the value of digital transformation, considering cloud, mobility and big data important to their organizations. These technologies are positioned to revolutionize how government does business and interacts with its constituents,” said Steve Harris, vice president and general manager at Dell EMC Federal, in a statement.

Few agencies are bucking the digital transformation trend. Nearly all those polled (97 percent) said they were working off a strategic IT plan. Their goals are largely to increase productivity (85 percent) and slash IT costs (65 percent), according to the study.

“Digital transformation also demands agencies modernize their IT systems,” continued Harris. “With IT plans defined by incremental steps toward modernization and flexible software-based solutions, agencies are equipped to support tomorrow’s technology innovation and meet today’s mission goals.”

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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