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Trusting cloud storage and spurring innovation

As cloud adoption continues to accelerate, innovation should be the primary focus moving forward.

More businesses are adopting cloud storage solutions for a wide variety of purposes, demonstrating a higher level of trust in the technology. With more companies showcasing trust in cloud solutions and a growing market to match, it is arguably time for businesses to accept the cloud's arrival in the enterprise and shift focus to improving its applications with innovation.

In a recent InfoWorld article, cloud computing expert David Linthicum argued that cloud adoption has finally reached its tipping point, initially slowed by security concerns that are now being cast aside. He explained that cloud maturation has followed the path of initial interest and curiosity by corporations, followed by study and experimentation and is now making its way toward true production. Linthicum projected that the coming years will bring accelerated cloud adoption, and suggested the hype may soon die down.

Moving toward innovation
As more organizations cast aside security concerns and recognize that resistance to cloud computing storage is essentially futile if businesses wish to remain competitive, the road to innovation is paved and ready for travelers. John Foley, Forbes contributor and director of strategic communications for Oracle, recently explored some of the most striking innovations in cloud use by the federal government, noting that the U.S. government alone spends roughly $2 billion per year on cloud computing and related initiatives, making it the largest cloud user across the globe.

Foley stressed that in its rise to the largest cloud user in the world, the federal government has taken on the role of "cloud pioneers and innovators" in surprising ways. However, the shift to cloud storage solutions was not necessarily initiated by genius insight into the disruptive power of the cloud, but more so anchored in the necessity and lack of alternative options.

"In other words, government IT teams moved to the cloud because they had no choice," Foley wrote. "Federal IT spending has been flat for the past four years, and agencies are in the midst of a data consolidation initiative that has resulted in the closing of hundreds of data centers, with more closures to come. With little extra money to spend and a shrinking data center footprint, Uncle Sam was forced to find new ways to deliver IT resources, both internally and to the public. Agencies are deploying commercial cloud services, private clouds, shared clouds and hybrid clouds and they're using new policies, processes and tools to scale clouds to the vast size and unique requirements of the U.S. government."

While Foley noted that it hasn't all been smooth sailing, there has been significant and observable progress, and dozens of clouds are now deployed across the government. He outlined the top things the feds have done to combat challenges as they adopt cloud storage hardware rather than rely on legacy systems, which he ranked in order of importance:

  1. Became early adopters of private clouds
  2. Established the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) to integrate government security requirements with the cloud environment
  3. Utilized software as a service (SaaS) for advanced CRM capabilities that provide an improved customer experience
  4. Became cloud brokers to switch seamlessly between different cloud storage systems
  5. Enhanced SaaS initiatives by pursuing everything as a service
  6. Maximized efficiency by sharing cloud infrastructure resources and platforms across different departments and government agencies
  7. Utilized the cloud's scalability to support big data initiatives
  8. Migrated more than 1 million users from disparate email systems to a single organization-wide cloud-based email solution
  9. Leveraged the cloud to boost transparency of data
  10. Shared Mars images to the public with cloud services

As other recent news from ZDNet indicates that many companies are still confused when it comes to the cloud, businesses can look to the fed's innovative use of cloud hardware and services as an example of best paths to follow.