Cloud service providers have saved businesses a lot of money with their solutions. Renewed focus on U.S. government IT, especially the procurement system, has many federal technology professionals eyeing the cloud to reduce costs.

Utilizing PaaS
Platform as a service cloud has been at the center of government IT's attention. The need for application development tools with a lower price tag is driving federal demand for PaaS solutions, according to a recent study. PaaS can help cut the cost of government applications development by $20.5 billion a year, or close to one-third of what is currently spent on federal IT.

The survey polled 153 federal IT executives, in which 77 percent of respondents stated that application development is vital to their ability to meet mission objectives. These participants noted that "federal IT is fundamentally broken," and that the government spends 70 percent of its IT budget – about $56 billion every year – solely on maintaining legacy technology, noted Forbes contributor Joe McKendrick, who cited statistics provided by the General Accounting Office.

Maintenance required for legacy systems is not the only contributor to spiking costs. The snail's pace speed at which various IT processes take to complete drastically increase government expenditures. For example, the software development cycle takes an average of three and a half years, notably because of the outdated technology that's being used. Forty-one percent of IT managers said their agencies' software and applications either need to be replaced or upgraded.

These IT issues have been reignited with the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov, a federal IT project that was in the making for more than three years. Initial development costs and ongoing repairs are expected to top $1 billion when it's all said and done, which has set a national debate over federal IT procurement and led President Obama to call for major reforms. In fact, the latest reports show that 40 percent of the website has yet to be built; last month, David Kennedy, CEO of the information security company Trusted Sec., believed it would take at least six months to a year to implement fixes. A New York Times report pointed out that the website consists of roughly 500 million lines of code.

Federal IT professionals believe the cloud is the answer to their tech problems. About 12 percent of those surveyed were currently using PaaS, and 20 percent were in a transition period to cloud-based development. An overwhelming number of respondents – 95 percent – said their agencies would benefit from deploying PaaS solutions through reduced costs and enhanced security.

Here are some additional results from the study:

  • Ninety percent said moving to PaaS offers support for data center consolidation
  • Seventy-nine percent believed using PaaS would help their organization take advantage of shared services
  • Seventy-three percent noted it would help them take full advantage of big data
  • Sixty-nine percent said it would support mobile devices

While the economical benefits of cloud computing are a major incentive, flexibility and agility through cloud-based solutions offer the greatest opportunity for IT professionals to repair the fundamental problems with federal IT. Two-thirds of respondents said they were currently benefiting from increased mission agility by using PaaS.