Government as cloud provider

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Wherever you turn these days, there are discussions about cloud computing: What kind of benefit can cloud bring to the corporation? What are the drivers and barriers to shift workload or complete IT environment in to the cloud (private, public or hybrid cloud)?

Most of the discussion is related to reducing capital or operational cost, increasing efficiency, and therefore becoming agile to market changes. These discussions are mostly relevant for large enterprises because they can gain significant benefits from the cloud environment by having a well designed and implemented cloud.

What about government, its institutions and agencies? Can the cloud model become a model for them, influence the way they work, their operations, and their efficiency? Will the government adopt a cloud model?

If we look at the current situation within the government institutions and agencies from an operations perspective, they mostly operate independently with separate data centers, separate IT departments, and different processes, similar to corporations. Let’s take a look at government from another perspective – from a cloud view where institutions and agencies are represented as “workloads” (see the figure).

If we shift our view from a traditional to a cloud view, we can realize benefits, which the cloud environment can bring, from shifting institutions and agencies to cloud environment by sharing infrastructure components, service management, data centers, and operations.

We can think about establishing a government cloud as a new cost, but we have to consider all benefits that government as a cloud provider can bring to citizens and employees before we make initial judgments on that idea.

Drivers to move government workloads or the entire IT from a traditional environment to a cloud environment are similar as for corporations and enterprises. In addition to capital and operational cost reduction, governments are currently struggling with lack of funding, decreased IT budget, and lack of educated resources.

Providing services on time and with quality to citizens and employees is one among other benefits that government institutions and agencies can benefit from the cloud environment. Additional benefits include efficient response to changes, effective resource utilization shared among government institutions and agencies, increased data center utilization, common service management, and consolidated data.

Within the major market, we can already spot certain activities to move workloads to cloud, but they are still in an early stage of adoption, defining strategy and roadmaps. At the moment, most government institutions and agencies are acting independently in defining cloud strategies, and currently they are considering external providers as cloud providers. In a growth market, there are no significant cloud initiatives.

If we think of it deeper, we can realize that there are many reasons to shift government’s institutions and agencies to cloud, either to an external cloud provider or to a government cloud environment. What are the barriers to do so, or what is stopping governments from building their own cloud environments because there is no significant movement in this area?

One of the major barriers to adopting a cloud model is security and data privacy. This specific issue is highlighted as the number one concern when discussion about public cloud (external cloud providers) takes place. We should not forget resistance to change, because effective cloud adoption will change internal processes and the way organization functions. We can also find resistance in cloud adoption from IT managers who either have no clear IT vision or have simply lost their credibility and power within the organization.

Security issues should not be barrier number one because we have tools and techniques to provide the required level of security or to assess security within the external cloud providers to be able to make decisions. Higher focus should be on effective change management to assure buy-in of all stakeholders for required change.

Government cloud can improve productivity and efficiency of government institutions and agencies, reduce cost, and therefore provide better services to citizens.

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