Agencies open up to OpenStack

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Three out of four government IT professionals in a new poll say their agencies are now using cloud computing services. The new survey also found that a significant portion of the respondents have favorable perceptions about the cost, security and ease of deploying the popular open source software platform, OpenStack, for their on-premises cloud computing initiatives.

The findings indicate that open source technology, like OpenStack, is coming into wider use within government agencies, with about one-fourth of government respondents reporting that their agencies currently use open source technology for their on-premises cloud services. The technology manages large clusters of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter as an alternative to using proprietary cloud software.

The study also identified a greater commitment toward technologies that permit rapid, iterative development: Seven in 10 government respondents said their agencies are using, planning or considering adopting agile software development methods.

Cloud computing continues to offer a way forward to modernizing aging IT systems in government.  Among federal and state government respondents who said their agencies aren’t currently using cloud services, two-thirds said their agencies plan to use them in the next 12 to 24 months.

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FedScoop/StateScoop survey of government IT professionals.

The study, conducted by FedScoop and StateScoop, reflects the views of approximately 300 government IT professionals. About 77 percent work for federal and state agencies; the balance are employed at industry firms working in the government IT community. The study was conducted online in April and underwritten by Cisco and Red Hat.

The new survey found that agencies are using cloud services for a variety of functions. Among the top uses of cloud services, 61 percent of respondents say their organizations use the cloud for computing, followed by email (58 percent), storage (55 percent), application development (50 percent) and back up (36 percent).

The study explored government IT professionals’ perceptions about OpenStack compared to using proprietary cloud software and found:

  • Nine in 10 believe OpenStack is no more expensive, and half belief it less expensive to deploy than proprietary cloud software.
  • Eight in 10 believe it is as fast or faster to deploy.
  • Three in four believe it is as secure or more secure.
  • Seven in 10 believe it is as resilient or more resilient in handling operating faults.
  • Five in 10 believe it makes overall development costs easier to control.

“The survey reaffirms a huge trend we’ve seen toward agile development,” said Kevin Sherry, senior director for public sector consulting at Red Hat. “A lot of the adoption of OpenStack is part of a larger DevOps strategy. As cloud components become larger, the need for much faster and more agile development is an absolute requirement,” he said.

“These findings confirm the growing momentum we’re seeing in the marketplace for open source and OpenStack,” added Tim Silk, senior manager, systems engineering for Cisco Systems. “Cisco invested in OpenStack internally starting several years ago and we are seeing growing demand from our customers for our managed solutions using OpenStack that we’ve developed with Red Hat.

The survey also identified a number of obstacles to adopting OpenStack in their organizations. The lack of available staff and internal skills to migrate to OpenStack were cited most often (by 6 in 10 respondents). About one-third mentioned doubts about the benefits outweighing deployment costs and whether OpenStack met agency requirements.

Read or download the full report: Weighing the Move to an OpenStack Cloud in Government by FedScoop and StateScoop.

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