Public sector units, whether federal or state-owned, have traditionally been slower to adopt cloud technologies than private enterprises, with costs driving most decisions.

In 2011, the Obama administration formalized a policy called the ‘Cloud First Initiative.’ Though slow to hit its stride, since then, the trend has been changing. Public sector leaders are beginning to see the advantages of cloud computing. Here’s a rundown on the hows, whys and whats of cloud adoption in the public sector.

Reasons to Move to the Cloud

Cost Saving and Efficiency

Most public sector IT undertakings have usually had their infrastructure on premises. Shifting to the cloud reduces overhead costs as resources are used on-demand. These costs include hardware, software, tools, and other IT-related maintenance costs. Cloud-based infrastructure has higher levels of energy saving and is more eco-friendly as well.

Scalability and Flexibility

Traditional on-premise computing becomes much more expensive as the number of users increases and more IT capabilities are added. The technology ecosystem becomes more complex and fragmented. On-demand addition of on-premise storage and computing power are neither practical nor feasible. Cloud implementations offer scalability on-demand at much lower costs. The flexibility of virtual infrastructure on demand, along with a plethora of managed services, makes the cloud an attractive option to consider for budget-restrained government agencies.

The Covid Impact

Covid forced many state agencies and federal institutions to migrate several operations to the cloud as a short-term solution. There was a surge in the immediate need for online services as well as the work-from-home or remote work option that needed to be implemented. Employees were to work from home, applications and data were to be accessed from anywhere, and migrating to the cloud was the only way out.

Now that the end of the pandemic is in sight, a relook at the cloud will need to be done. Cloud scalability, flexibility, and reliability outperform on-premise IT enablement, along with cloud security, solutions, and technical support. These factors must now drive cloud adoption in the government sector.

Factors for CIOs of Governmental Agencies to Consider While Becoming Cloud-Enabled

Leverage of Momentum

As elucidated above, the Covid pandemic forced cloud adoption in governmental agencies due to prevailing circumstances. As it stands, a certain momentum has been achieved in adopting newer cloud technologies. This advantage should not be squandered as the pressures of the pandemic on operations recede and complacency sets in.

The Approach of Value, Budgets, and Objectives

Getting the best value for under-pressure budgets is how cloud migration in a government agency can be described. How to add value and meet the objectives along with sustainability and scalability are questions that need to be asked. Business reengineering and flow management, along with the synchronization of existing legacy applications and on-premise infrastructure with newer cloud-based technologies, are focal points in planning. Onboarding cloud migration experts in such exercises is recommended and encouraged.

A risk-based enterprise-wide approach will need to be adopted based on existing operation frameworks, applications, data, and use cases. This approach will assist in deciding what gets migrated to the cloud, what stays on-premise, which apps will be upgraded or rewritten, and so forth.

Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Environments

State-owned agencies and federal agencies are intrinsically on-premises operations. There is no need to migrate all operations to the cloud in one go. Taking a hybrid approach is prudent and practical. Strategic planning of what remains on-premises and what moves to the cloud will need to be done.

Total cloud migration could take several years to achieve.

Depending on current and planned frameworks, upgrades, modular application development, and data distribution, a decision to use multi-cloud vendors can also be made. The choice of multi-cloud architecture must also consider factors such as pricing and vendor lock-in.

Changing Mindset on Capitalization, Operating Expenses, and Contracts

With on-premise implementations of IT, there are actual software and hardware to be purchased. Governmental budgets and financial planning are based on the capitalization of physical assets and the control of operating expenses. In the cloud model, this mindset needs to be changed as everything is in the cloud as virtual services based on subscription services. Operating expenses take over, and capitalization of assets is difficult as there is nothing tangible to capitalize on.

Working with various financial and procurement officers along with regulatory inspectors to understand and accept this change is crucial for the successful approval of cloud migration projects. Contracts with respect to purchase and maintenance contracts of hardware and software are now replaced with system requirements and service level agreements.

Considering Standard Solutions Over Customized Software

Software running governance applications in the public sector are known for their high level of customization, making legacy migration to the cloud extremely difficult and expensive. As such, state and federal-run agencies are shifting to standard solutions like Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Office 365, as well as using low-code/no-code platforms for application development and deployment.

Cybersecurity and Data Compliance

Cloud implementations must be extremely careful regarding data, usage, protection, and storage. There are very strict guidelines to be adhered to, for data protection, privacy, and data loss prevention of information that is collected or used by governmental agencies. Partnering with cybersecurity consultants is beneficial to assisting in-house efforts for the same.

Cyber security strategies and adherence to privacy and data security compliances and protocols are key in any cloud implementation. FEDRamp and StateRAMP initiatives also offer standards for certifications for security, data, and monitoring.

Baby Steps to Fulfilling Final Objectives

As with other large-scale projects, baby steps in migration to the cloud are highly advised over the “lift and shift” of entire systems to the cloud. Having a definite project plan with mini milestones using agile and iterative development is far more productive and efficient for cloud migration. Incremental and modular solutions instead of large-scale projects spanning years are advised. Also, with small yet strategic deployments, the course of migration and all issues related to the same can be monitored more carefully.


Getting employees cloud-ready is a mission-critical step in the process for any government agency and the adoption of the cloud. A change of mindset, perception, thought process, and the tools and technologies that will be used, need to be factored into the training initiative. The different decision-makers from all levels of government need to be considered as stakeholders for cloud-based migration in any state or federal-owned enterprise. They need to undergo some sort of orientation training on cloud services, their advantages, and their benefits.

Cloud at the Service of the Government

Cloud-based solutions in the form of software as a service, infrastructure as a service, or platform as a service are offering government sectors the flexibility of on-time and within-budget IT implementations with the latest tools and technologies. The momentum is high and more and more government agencies are choosing cloud-based solutions over legacy on-premise enterprise architectures.

Liked what you read? Partner with us on your cloud journey as many state government and federal public sector agencies and entities have done.

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