Is PaaS the savior of the Federal datacenter consolidation initiative?

It's been a very rocky road for the well-intentioned plan
Written by David Chernicoff, Contributor on

By almost any measure, the government IT plans for the cost and energy saving consolidation initiative has been a failure when it comes to meeting its original goals and timelines. From issues of defining what a datacenter actually is to a basic inability to push standards of measurement, design, and planning across the entire bureaucracy, the simple sounding task of “consolidating government datacenters” has taken on many of the stereotypical aspects of government boondoggles.

This isn’t to say that progress hasn’t been made, but as with many mandates passed down from on high, the actual implementation of the project goals is far more difficult that setting them. And a lack of clear definition has hampered the project from the get go. To address the demands of the consolidation, a large percentage of Federal IOT executives are considering Platform-as-a-Service as their potential savior, according to a study released this week by MeriTalk.

While not yet in wide use, with only 12 percent of the respondents saying that they were currently utilizing PaaS in any form, 90 percent of the respondents were of the opinion that it could be used to support their data center consolidation needs. And unlike many technologies, almost every person surveyed believed that PaaS would benefit their particular agency, if only through cost reduction and improved security.

Security is clearly uppermost in the minds of those responsible for this type of transition, even though more than 80 percent of those currently transitioning to a PaaS provider found little or no problems with maintaining the security of their data during the transition.  Over 40 percent of those questioned believed that the move to PaaS would actually improve the security of their data.

If anything, the general theme of the responses was that PaaS would provide a level of flexibility that would address many of the challenges that Federal IT is facing in meeting the goals of the initiative, with almost 80 percent of the respondents seeing it as a way to meet the requirement that shared services become a much larger component of IT services in the federal government, moving agencies away from maintaining their own fiefdoms.

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