A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the GSA IaaS Education Day. While sitting in a room full of federal agency IT and IT acquisition professionals, Keith Trippie, Executive Director for Enterprise System Development Office at US Department of Homeland Security, reviewed DHS roadmap to the cloud and succinctly illustrated the benefits of adopting cloud services.
“Raise your hand if you have a process that allows you to purchase services in a day,” he said, and as expected not a single hand went up. This lead to discussions regarding levels of oversight, how self-service really works and the challenges of fitting a pay-as-you-go service with existing federal purchasing and budget practices. Interestingly enough, there was not a single question about the technologies used to deploy services. As Keith put it, “the technology is the least of my concerns, and if in a year from now an agency CIO/CTO gets up and says it took months to get servers for a project, they will get laughed off the stage.”
By nature of managing a cloud service, I discuss the benefits of cloud adoption on a daily basis. However, I rarely get to witness the “aha” moment first-hand, as many initial meetings are conference calls or online demos. What struck me was watching the understanding and acceptance process play out. Skeptics worked through the issues and began sharing strategies to meet the adoption mandates while addressing the biggest hurdle -- fitting this into the federal business processes. I personally didn’t witness any of the agency team members high-fiving or chest bumping when leaving the seminar, but there were definitely some converts at the end of the session.