A study conducted by MeriTalk, a public-private partnership that focuses on serving the government IT sector, and underwritten by Red Hat (RHT), indicates that the federal government could save upwards of $20.5 billion by using PaaS. According to MeriTalk, that's equivalent to 25 percent of the feds' current IT budget.

The report, titled "PaaS or Play? Cloud's Next Move," was focused on demonstrating how the use of PaaS within federal government departments and agencies could speed up software development. And according to MeriTalk, the current environment of software development moves at a glacial pace, which it noted translates into higher costs.

The average application development cycle takes 3.5 years before completion, but if the federal government moves to PaaS for its application development, that could be cut by 31 percent. Not insignificant at all.

"Using PaaS can save time, and time is money," said Gunnar Hellekson, chief technology strategist for the U.S. public sector at Red Hat, in a prepared statement. "In an era of federal budget cuts and continued belt tightening, this new way of software development and deployment represents a significant opportunity for agencies to be more agile and much more fiscally responsible."

The benefits could be significant. According to the study, 95 percent of feds that responded to the survey indicated their agencies would benefit from a migration to PaaS, mostly because of reduced costs and improved security. However, only 12 percent said they use PaaS today, but 71 percent are considering using the technology for their software development.

But the transition isn't going to be easy for everybody. Ensuring security and overcoming leadership resistance represent huge challenges. Of the 153 federal IT executives surveyed, 67 percent said the most significant challenge they face in the transition to PaaS is security. The good news is 83 percent of current PaaS users said they made the switch while being able to maintain safety and security of their agencies' data.