Most organizations that are interested in moving to the cloud are at least partially motivated by the savings it offers. There’s good reason for this – when compared with the total cost of ownership of supporting a network infrastructure and servers, the cloud can quickly pull ahead as the more affordable option.
However, this doesn’t mean that moving to the cloud is a no-brainer. There are still steps that must be taken to ensure that a company’s move to the cloud is a profitable one. The cloud offers a superior capacity for cheap data storage, and in an age where the amount of information at all types of organization continues to increase, that is important to consider. Embracing cloud computing for government agencies requires understanding exactly how to make use of the cloud and reading the fine print on cloud contracts carefully.
It’s prudent to examine the problems that one can run into when moving to the cloud. Hidden cloud costs are a real thing, and many cloud providers don’t provide all of the answers that their clients need in easy to understand language. Service level agreements are complicated enough without involving technology as complex and difficult to understand as cloud computing software, so many organizations make missteps in dealing with these. In fact, 87 percent of U.K.-based IT decision-makers said they have engaged in “unplanned cloud spending.” In other words, they accidently wound up giving their cloud service provider a little bit more than they meant to.
Some of the areas that wound up costing the most were internal software maintenance, systems integration and deployment management. These expenses all have to do with costs that might not be spelled out in black and white during a business meeting. The costs of moving business services over to the cloud can be hard to estimate, internal software can require IT hours as employees adjust to it, and deployment can take longer than expected.
Moving to the cloud without breaking the bank
Due diligence is the most important element in moving to the cloud safely and affordably. Understanding how data will be stored, and budgeting appropriately for creating the interoperability that a government agency will need, is up to the agency. It is absolutely possible, for state and local government agencies to benefit from cloud computing. Many U.S. states have already seen incredible amounts of savings due to their use of cloud computing technologies. The state of Wyoming, for example, has saved over $1 million a year thanks to its migration to Google Apps in 2011, according to the Gazette. Further, Iowa has licensed the movement of many of its own government systems to Google Apps for Government.
Many government agencies are using Google-based software in order to make their data move more efficiently. By getting their contracts right the first time, these agencies have been able to dramatically reduce their costs. Using software-as-a-service platforms helps these organizations to reduce the strain on their internal networks, leaving them free to avoid the costs of upgrading and maintaining expensive infrastructure. At the same time, they are able to see major growth in terms of their ability to actually deal with a large amount of information. This is, in effect, a doubling of gains – these agencies are able to process more information with less expense.
The big factor involved in moving to the cloud is understanding service level contracts. Once a government agency is able to make sure that it is getting the right level of service that it needs to deliver powerful results to its citizens, it can benefit greatly from the cloud.