The Troposphere

Sep 26 2011   10:28PM GMT

Ex-Fed CIO Vivek Kundra’s Cloud First policy trashed

JoMaitland Jo Maitland Profile: JoMaitland

Former federal CIO Vivek Kundra has been slammed by IT pros working for the government for his “Cloud First” policy, according to a survey by MeriTalk, an online IT community for U.S. government workers.

The survey of 174 federal IT pros was conducted in August 2011 at the MeriTalk Innovation Nation forum, six months after Kundra’s resignation.

“Vivek’s tenure … was like a bottle of champagne — seems like a great idea, exciting start, but the plan’s unclear, and the next morning you wake up with the same problems and a sore head,” said Steve O’Keeffe, founder, MeriTalk. The firm has presented its findings to Steven VanRoekel, Kundra’s replacement.

The feds supported Kundra’s initiatives, but said timing, funding and conflicting mandates made it impossible to carry them out, according to O’Keeffe. Kundra placed a heavy emphasis on modernizing infrastructure spending on IT, which he said soaked up $19 billion per year out of the approximately $70 billion federal IT budget.

While the majority of federal IT professionals (71%) believe Vivek Kundra made a significant impact while in office and credit his vision as his greatest strength, the study revealed that top challenges under Kundra included lack of funding to fulfill mandates (59%), conflicting mandates (44%) and unrealistic goals/mandates (41%). When asked to vote on the three most important priorities for the new federal CIO, respondents said:

Reduce the number of mandates and conflicting mandates (60%)
Reassess goals/timelines to make success attainable (53%)
Listen to feedback/counsel from IT operations (46%)

According to the study, 92% of feds believe cloud is a good idea for federal IT, but just 29% are following the administration’s mandated “Cloud First” policy. And almost half (42%) say they are adopting a “wait-and-see” approach related to cloud. Respondents cite numerous challenges including security issues (64%), cultural issues (36%) and budget constraints (36%) as barriers to cloud computing.

Almost all feds (95%) also vote for data center consolidation, although the majority (70%) say federal agencies will not be able to eliminate the mandated 800 data centers by 2015. Respondents do anticipate realizing savings from their data center consolidation efforts, with most (74%) estimating the federal government can save at least $75 million overall. Respondents acknowledge, however, that investment is needed — 85% say Feds will not realize data center savings without new investment.

When it comes to cyber security, respondents unanimously agreed threats have increased in the last year (100% say yes). Feds say the most important priorities for cyber security going forward are: securing federal networks (68%), critical infrastructure protection (56%) and privacy protection (36%). However, feds say funding to meet these priorities is, on average, 41% short. Further, feds are unclear who owns cyber security, highlighting a leadership vacuum.

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  • HarleyRiderInMD
    It's unfair to characterize these findings as 'slamming' or 'trashing' Kundra's policies. Sure - he took a huge step forward without all the information he needed, and he made assumptions that you all might not have agreed with - but he articulated a vision that has attainable challenges. Now that the first wave of "We can't" is over with, let's let experience and rational thought prevail and ask "How can we?".
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