The future of the cloud in government
May 16, 2016
Government work is all about efficiency. With so many people relying on the work of local public sector employees, ensuring tasks are completed quickly and effectively is a major concern. One of the best ways to boost productivity is through the cloud.
The private sector is already working heavily in a cloud-based environment, and many agencies are already beginning to see what this technology can do for them. But what exactly is the cloud doing for the government, and what will its future look like within public service?
There are many benefits
Modern governmental entities already have quite a lot to gain from switching to a cloud-based computing environment. Hanging on to legacy systems simply due to their familiarity isn't an option anymore. It's already been said that the cloud improves efficiency within agencies, but just how does this come about?
Well, one of the most important ways organizations are improving their operations with this technology is through increased communication. Working together is a major part of the modern office, but it's often easier said than done, especially when employed by a governmental agency. Moving important data between users isn't that simple when the information is classified or otherwise secretive in nature, which can hinder overall productiveness.
This is one problem that the cloud solves with ease. In fact, a study conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found that just under three-quarters of people within the survey said better collaboration was a big perk of working with the cloud. Clearly, the cloud is helping many businesses improve communication between employees.
That said, there is another side of efficiency that the cloud can help with. Agencies not only need to be effective in their actions, they also need to be fast. Yet again, this is an area where cloud-based technologies can improve responsiveness. The same Harvard Business Review Analytic Services study also found that 71 percent of respondents believed agility was a major benefit of the cloud.
When these two advantages are combined, they give departments what they need to improve daily operations. There are, of course, many other benefits to the cloud, but these two are indicative of what government officials can expect to see following an implementation of this technology. Better responsiveness and improved collaboration are the foundation upon which a successful agency can be built.
Agencies are already seeing these advantages
What's more, these benefits aren't hypothetical situations, they're very real advantages that many government administrators are already beginning to see. Perhaps the most pertinent recent example of this is the State of Ohio Computing Center's migration to the cloud. The SOCC's IT infrastructure was running incredibly inefficiently, and decided the more than 30 agencies contained within the facility deserved better.
Once this decision was made, key SOCC officials contacted IBM for help with consolidation through a single private cloud within the building. After much work, IBM employees were able to centralize all of the SOCC's IT needs onto a single floor, according to GCN contributor Amanda Ziadeh.
This project involved quite a lot of work on the side of IBM, but so much effort has certainly paid off. The SOCCC's move to the cloud was so successful that the agency now has an entire floor to rent to outside tenants, thereby decreasing overall costs. What's more, Ohio's CIO Stu Davis stated that this reorganization has saved around $103 million since its inception in 2013.
Aside from this, the SOCC has also begun to foster even more inter-departmental relationships. The migration allowed 22 cabinet agencies to move into the SOCC due to efforts from the Office of Information Technology, which could certainly help open lines of communication between agencies. What's more, less hardware translates to less work, which means IT workers now have time to respond to more important operational needs.
There are some perceived downsides
Despite the multitude of advantages garnered from working within a cloud-based environment, there are still those who have their doubts. The main problem officials seem to have with it is security, which is a consistent concern levied against new technologies being implemented within the private sector. Government agencies have a lot of important data they need to keep safe, and playing loose and fast simply isn't an option.
In fact, a study from HyTrust found that around 67 percent of respondents said worries surrounding the cloud's security would hinder mass movement into the technology. On top of that, 55 percent believed that an implementation of a cloud-based environment would increase the chances of becoming the victim of a data breach.
While government officials should always be mindful of the security of their agency's data, these worries about the cloud are simply unfounded. The cloud is incredibly secure when implemented properly, and a private cloud option is one of the best ways to ensure data safety. What's more, the cloud's security measures are only going to get better with time.
A study conducted by Strategic Defence Intelligence found that by 2025, roughly 15 percent of the entire world's cybersecurity market will be in the cloud. Being wary of new technologies is necessary within government, but skipping them altogether due to a false notion of security is one of the surest ways to remain inefficient.
Working with professionals can help
Clearly, the future of cloud computing within government agencies is very bright. These organizations need all the help they can get to improve efficiency in order to better serve the average citizen, and the cloud is one of the best ways to achieve this. Improved agility and collaboration are only two of a long list of benefits that administrators can expect to see once they've made the migration.
That said, cloud infrastructures are only as good as the people who build them, so agency officials looking to make the move should contact well-seasoned professionals before doing so. UNICOM Government has years of experience working with the cloud needs of all kinds of government departments, and our workers know what it takes to get the job done right.