Cloud is all about speed.

Cost savings are great and agility is great, but it’s the potential to increase the speed – and therefore effectiveness – of government that is cloud’s greatest potential benefit.

So says Federal CIO Tony Scott, whose keynote address kicked off a day-long confab for a standing-room-only packed house at last week’s Cloud Computing Exchange Brainstorm.

“There’s enough stuff there, the costs are low enough, and the incentives are high enough, that it’s not a question of ‘if’ or even ‘when,’ but of how fast can we get there,” Scott said.

He wants to get there faster, he said, because the payoff comes in so many forms.

“Speed to market,” Scott said. “Speed to solution. Speed to meet the needs of whatever our citizens need, or our companies need, or our business needs are.”

“That’s where we’ve got to draw the line, and say we’re going to do everything we can to get faster and faster and FASTER to be competitive in the global economy today.”

The current pace isn’t good enough, Scott said. He called on Federal IT insiders and outsiders to come together and accelerate adoption.

“Help us figure out…how we can get more speed in this engine and get more and more and more of our Federal agencies and Federal applications in the cloud,” Scott said.

Because, he said again, “Speed is everything.”

Cloud spending will grow from $2.05 billion this year to $2.1 billion next year, according to the Cloud Computing Caucus Advisory Group’s recent report on the state of Federal cloud. But it could grow faster. Meanwhile, legacy systems are eating up the majority of the budget – some $58 billion this year, according to the General Accountability Office (GAO).

That’s why Federal IT is on GAO’s High Risk List – you can’t dig your way out of that mess if you continue to spend 73 cents of every IT dollar maintaining legacy systems.

Scott’s tips for moving faster:

  • ”Don’t waste a good crisis,” Scott said. “Look for a crisis, and in a time of crisis people are a lot more open to thinking about how they do things.”
  • Look for a compelling business opportunity. “There are paradigm shifts that occur where the businesses that we thought we were in have changed dramatically, and in a lot of cases that’s the digitization of the business itself. It’s an opportunity to think differently about the business that I’m in. How am I going to serve customers?”
  • Pick a small pilot project for your first cloud transition.

Cloud service providers can help. They need to develop better, cheaper, more scalable enterprise services. They can be part of the compelling case to move to the cloud.

Finding commercial solutions is key, he said, because simply migrating old technology to a new platform will not make things better in the future.

As agencies move to the cloud, Scott urged them not simply to take the data and applications that reside in their silos now and replicate it in a cloud.

“What I don’t want to do as we journey to the cloud…is replicate all the business logic and all of the capabilities that exists in siloed form today. That would be stupid,” he said. “I don’t want to replicate the old architecture, the old logic. We need cloud platforms that are secure by design. Scalable web services…and then [add those features to] what’s already there – the lower run time and operational costs.”

In the bigger picture, CIOs must ensure their agencies are guided by good governance.

“Getting organizational alignment, getting governance right is the single-most important thing CIOs can do,” Scott said. “I would put it above getting to the cloud, even though I know [that’s] … why I’m here. I would put that above anything else. It is the key to success at the end of the day.”

Listen to Scott’s full remarks.

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MeriTalk Staff