While state government IT leaders say that cloud computing is a priority, the vast majority are still reliant on mainframe computing.

A new biennial study by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and Accenture explores the increased interest and use of cloud technologies in state governments. The report noted that cloud computing as been a top priority for state CIOs since at least 2010. But despite longstanding interest in cloud, CIOs cited major barriers slowing their move to cloud, including considerations around financial management and budgets, cybersecurity, procurement, and workforce capabilities.

“We found state CIOs widely acknowledge benefits from shifting to the cloud, including potential cost savings, system flexibility, scalability, security, and improved citizen experiences,” said Doug Robinson, NASCIO executive director. “And many of them want to more aggressively address perceived barriers that stand in the way of tapping more cloud power to advance digital and operational capabilities, so we offer this new report as a resource.”

NASCIO and Accenture kicked off the report asking what each state’s desired end game is when it comes to cloud migration. The overwhelming majority of states – 89 percent – said that hybrid cloud is their ideal cloud state. The report noted that states are likely interested in hybrid cloud because it offers them flexibility over what workloads they’d like to place in the cloud.

States Grapple With Mainframe Computing

Diving into what state CIOs are relying on in the absence of cloud, NASCIO found that 89 percent of respondents still have a mainframe computer, and 71 percent have not moved any mainframe applications to the cloud, which NASCIO called a “key step in enterprise cloud implementation.”

Despite the majority of states not having made a move from mainframe on-premise to a mainframe as a service (MFaaS), nearly half said the primary driver for moving to MFaaS is cost savings. NASCIO noted that MFaaS will likely be a large part of modernization strategies moving forward.

Cybersecurity Concerns Remain a Barrier

The report also delved into state CIOs’ cybersecurity concerns when it comes to cloud adoption. Respondents identified cybersecurity as a top barrier to cloud adoption. “Rightfully so,” NASCIO said, “as ad hoc adoption of the cloud can lead to security risks.” While the concern may be valid, NASCIO pointed out that cloud-native cybersecurity measures can help to mitigate some of the risk.

NASCIO asked respondents what cloud certifications or standards programs their states requires. Sixty-three percent of states report that they currently depend upon FedRAMP certification, however, some states are starting the pivot to employ StateRAMP, with nine percent of states incorporating StateRAMP certification. Forty-three percent of respondents said their state utilizes vendor-specific cloud certifications.

When it comes to actually securing the cloud, concerningly only 66 percent of states indicated they had a process for managing cloud-related privileged permission and 63 percent said cloud access related activities are monitored.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs