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Inaugural IDC Government Insights Report Examines Federal Government Spending on Cloud-Based Solutions

IDC Government Insights today announced a first of its kind forecast that examines how the U.S. Federal government is spending part of its IT budget on cloud-based solutions. According to the new report, Perspective: Growth and Slight Contraction – Government Cloud Spending by U.S. Federal Agency (Doc #GI241746), while spending increases for cloud have been scarce across federal agencies for two years, IDC Government Insights expects to see an acceleration after fiscal year 2014. This boost is helped along by enterprise architecture standards and rules, which in turn helps to create a commodity approach to cloud solutions.

For the past three years, the U.S. Federal CIO Council has been urging government agencies to move away from stand-alone computing solutions and toward cloud-based solutions. That effort is slowly having an effect on agency-level cloud spending. Government lags behind the private sector when it comes to cloud investment, but even as a latecomer, its consumption will accelerate.

Additional key findings from the report include:

  • The leading category of government cloud service is private cloud service.
  • Federal private cloud services spending will reach $1.7 billion in FY2014. IDC Government Insights expects to see this market reach $7.7 billion by FY2017.
  • Across other industries, Software as a Service (SaaS) is the leading type of cloud. But in government, it's Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Between now and 2017, IaaS will grow to $5.4 billion, SaaS will grow to $2.4 billion, and Platform as a Service (PaaS) will grow to $1.1 billion.
  • The Treasury Department is the leading consumer of public cloud, while the Social Security Administration (SSA) is the leader for private cloud, and the Justice Department is the leader for community cloud.
  • From a technology standpoint, the Justice Department is the leading consumer of SaaS while the Social Security Administration (SSA) leads for PaaS and IaaS.

Cloud investments have been stalled in 2013 and 2014 by sequestration, a slowdown in system consolidation efforts, and other government-wide issues, such as the complexity of establishing enterprise architecture standards. But IDC Government Insights expects to see this stagnation end by mid 2014 with federal cloud spending to resume, especially after 2015.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is Winner
In many other industries, SaaS is the largest segment for cloud spending. But in government, IaaS is the leader. This includes networks, systems management, firewalls, load balancers, management of IP addresses and domain names, and more. According to the new report, IaaS will grow from $1 billion in FY2012 to $5.4 billion by FY2017. Large systems integrators (SIs) are already a big part of the U.S. government landscape, so providing IaaS, ranging from networks to virtual machines to file-based storage, is a logical progression for both the government and the SIs.

Public versus Private
Public cloud spending is not the big winner when it comes to federal cloud planning. In fact, spending on public cloud is currently only about 10% of that for private cloud solutions. Too many agencies are nervous (correctly or not) about the level of security that can be promised by public cloud solutions. But many agencies are still making investments in public cloud, for things ranging from development platforms to Website or e-mail hosting, or even low-risk, long-term data storage. Federal Public Cloud spending will rise from $110.4 million in FY2012 to over $118.3 million in FY2014. The Treasury Department is the leader here.

Private cloud clearly is the top choice when it comes to federal cloud solutions. Promises of greater security, control, and privacy seem to hold the key to what federal agencies seek. In some cases we have seen new applications developed on a public cloud, which are later moved to a private dedicated cloud for their runtime environment. Federal Private Cloud spending will rise from $1.5 billion in FY2012 to over $1.7 billion FY2014. The SSA is the leader by far, and they even ramped up cloud spending in FY2013, at a time when others were cutting back. One key public cloud solution for SSA is called the Citizen Access Routing Enterprise (CARE) system, which focuses on call center activities.

Federal Community Cloud spending will decrease from $379.7 million in FY2012 to $313.5 million in FY2014. The Justice Department was (and still is) moving the most aggressively into community cloud. The FBI had been spending on community cloud programs such as the Next Generation Identification system, the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange Program, the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and the Law Enforcement Online system. Some of these projects matured, with less spending needed, while others simply have become less of a focus.

Hybrid Cloud spending will be flat across the federal government, with spending of $77.4 million in FY2012, nudged just slightly downward to $77.3 million in FY2014. Treasury is the leader here too, with the hybrid systems created as the department works to tie some of its older mainframes into new cloud-based solutions. (SSA is taking a similar approach.) Meanwhile NASA has seen some success in the hybrid cloud space by leveraging a Science Data System for monitoring hazards – focused on enabling rapid imaging and analysis for monitoring hazards (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides etc.), some organizations have taken a hybrid approach to the cloud functionality offered through NASA's hosted Nebula cloud environment.

"There are clear indications that Fiscal year 2014 will continue to be a flat year for cloud computing investments," said Shawn McCarthy, Research Director at IDC Government Insights. "Yet beyond that, growth potential looks bright. Investments should reach a critical mass around 2015 and beyond. A new emphasis on cloud solutions is expected to return within the next 18 months, and private cloud investments should approach $7.7 billion by FY2017."

For additional information about this report or to arrange a one-on-one briefing with Shawn McCarthy, please contact Sarah Murray at 781-378-2674 or [email protected]. Reports are available to qualified members of the media. For information on purchasing reports, contact [email protected]; reporters should email [email protected].

About IDC Government Insights
IDC Government Insights assists government policy, program, and IT leaders, as well as the suppliers who serve them, in making more effective technology decisions by providing accurate, timely, and insightful fact-based research and consulting services. Staffed by senior analysts with decades of government and IT industry experience, our global research analyzes and advises on business and technology issues facing the Federal/Central and local/provincial Governments. International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology market. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world’s leading technology, media, research, and events company. For more information, please visit www.idc-gi.com, email [email protected], or call 703-485-8300. Visit the IDC Government Insights Community at http://idc-insights-community.com/government.

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