- More governments are exploring cloud services as a means to increase their operational efficiency, responsiveness and to slash expenses.
- Extensive regulatory restrictions call into question just how ‘cloud’ (and therefore effective) implementations can be in achieving their objectives.
The public sector is not usually known for being on the leading edge of the adoption curve for new information technology. But governments around the world have been very vocal in their enthusiasm about the flexibility and cost benefits that the on-demand computing model promises. The U.S. federal government is actually writing cloud adoption into policy with its Cloud First initiative, which stipulates agencies procuring new IT sourcing solutions must choose a cloud option when a stable, secure and cost-effective offer is available. The UK is experimenting with similar mandates, and has solicited bids for suppliers to join its G-Cloud network of suppliers offering on-demand services.
Yet for all the discussion around government and the cloud, actual deployments are still fairly few and those underway tend to be early stage. A slow, methodical ramp to cloud services is to be expected considering how many regulatory restrictions and how much public scrutiny government organizations face as they consider their migration plans.
What will move the momentum to encourage government transition to the cloud is money. There is too much at stake for providers not to try and capitalize on pent-up demand for more straightforward, OpEx-based IT solutions. Vivek Kundra, former CIO of the U.S. federal government, estimated that U.S. federal government will spend $20 billion migrating workloads to the cloud. The anticipation is that long-term savings will greatly outweigh the expenditures.
Suppliers are definitely getting the message, and are tailoring the cloud approach to the public sector. Accenture scored a public sector win in January when the French government awarded the IT solution provider a three-year contract to build a cloud infrastructure that citizens can use to access government services. Others are coming to market with more general offers. CSC rolled out its CloudCompute for Government with the hope of capitalizing on the on-demand market with a ready-made solution. CSC’s CloudCompute for Government is a public sector Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offer that meets the guidelines set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); it is based on the same VCE vBlock technology the IT solution provider uses in its private cloud offer.
How successful government endeavors in the cloud are, will depend as much the public sector’s ability to move quickly and decisively as it will on providers’ capacity to deliver on-demand solutions that are as reliable and secure as they are flexible and cost-effective. What do you think: Can the public sector – and its suppliers – make the cloud work for government?