Transitioning from legacy, on-premises IT solutions to cloud computing has been a top priority among government IT leadership in the past five years. Despite being slow off the starting line, recent studies revealed that government cloud computing spend is expected to increase from its current annual allotment of $2.4 billion to an estimated $6.2 billion by 2020. This growth rate outpaces that of the entire federal IT budget.
The assumed benefits of government cloud computing include opportunities for data center consolidation, less duplicative spending and enhanced collaboration within and among government agencies. However, these boons only skim the surface of what cloud computing can achieve for government agencies. With the proliferation of enterprise mobility imminent, and the advent of the Internet of Things at hand, the government's ability to capitalize on the cutting-edge hinges upon cloud migration.
The bring-your-own-device and enterprise mobility market is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 27.6 percent between 2015 and 2020, according to a new report available via Research and Markets. While developing countries will account for much of this growth, the expected market value further highlights the long-term viability of enterprise mobility. More importantly, as this market potential is realized, cloud infrastructure will have a hugely important role to play.
The principal benefit of enterprise mobility is the ability to work from any device, and in theory, from locations outside the office. This enhances collaboration potential, and creates new avenues for productivity. To an extent, the government has already begun adopting enterprise mobility. However, legacy IT infrastructure often keeps data siloed in on-premises systems, which can make remote collaboration less efficient than it would be if this data were stored in the cloud. Granted, not all government IT services and data can be migrated to the cloud for security reasons; however, some of it can be, and already has been moved – but not quite on pace with federal goals.
Currently, the government is still well below its objective to allot $20 billion of the total federal IT budget to cloud computing. As a result, remote collaboration within government agencies may lag behind the private sector in the coming years.
The Internet of Things
By 2020, IDC predicts that there will be 28.1 billion connected devices. Many of these devices will be for consumer use – for example smart home technology inclusive of household appliances, security systems, lighting, sprinklers and more. However, the smart city is no longer just a concept. It's a reality, and one that can benefit immensely from cloud computing.
In order to leverage the benefits of the IoT and truly create smart cities, government bodies will need a remote network with cross-platform functionality – in other words, the cloud. Smart street lights, traffic signals, parking meters and security systems are only a few of the kinds of technology that will need to be connected in order to develop smart city infrastructure. Furthermore, sensors will be integrated into all of these devices that receive and send massive amounts of data, which is ultimately what makes them "smart." Sorting and analysis of this data is what will allow municipal employees to interact with these smart systems from the full range of computing devices – smartphones, tablets and laptops. This is precisely what cloud computing makes possible, and the reason why it will be so pivotal in the development of smart cities.
For now, fluid collaboration and data center consolidation are the key catalysts for the virtualization of government IT services. But in only a few years, enterprise mobility and smart cities will be much bigger blips on government IT's radar. When this happens, cloud computing will be more important than ever.