Public sector and the move to cloud computing
Cloud computing is a disruptive technology model that is changing the way public sector organizations consume information and communicate, and how they deploy and deliver services to stakeholders.
The public sector has not been immune to the appeal of cloud computing, with governments eager to accelerate adoption of cloud services. However, while the private and commercial sector has taken to cloud computing more rapidly, there are still some concerns regarding cloud adoption across the public sector.
According to a recent survey commissioned by Huddle in the UK, only a third of the public sector staff is comfortable using cloud computing, with the majority (92%) saying they have concerns over data security. The survey also revealed that 36% have never used cloud computing before, and almost half (43%) are still working together by printing and mailing documents.
However, with increasing data needs and constrained budgets, agencies are turning to cloud computing as a solution. Although broader implementation of the cloud has been generally slow, there are those that have paved the way for other agencies. Here are 3 early cloud adopters in the federal government:
The General Services Administration (GSA) is famous for collaborating with other agencies to establish FedRAMP. The program was designed to promote adoption of cloud computing technology, requiring agencies to use only approved service providers by June 2014. But even when cloud computing was still mostly a vision, beginning in 2010, GSA created a strategy that included migrating 17,000 employees to Google Apps for Government. It was the first federal agency to move basic email and collaboration services entirely into the cloud.
Even before the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) required agencies to move one existing IT service to the cloud by December 2011 and two more by June 2012, NASA established its own private cloud computing data center in 2009, called Nebula. NASA shut down Nebula in 2012 after testing its capabilities against those of Amazon and Microsoft. The test concluded that public clouds were a more reliable and cost-effective option. At the same time, the space agency projects that up to 75% of new IT programs could begin in the cloud within five years, and nearly 100% of its public data will be moved to the cloud.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) invested as much as $10 billion to migrate its IT operations to the cloud. In 2013 the agency announced that ten companies – including IBM, AT&T, and Verizon – have signed indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts, with each contract potentially valued at $1 billion. Through the DOI Foundation Cloud Hosting Services vehicle, task orders can also be requested on behalf of other agencies.
Top drivers for cloud computing implementations include business continuity, flexibility, better customer service, waste reduction, innovation, and the need for real-time information. So even if you are nervous about taking the leap into cloud collaboration tools, remember the benefits and just make the first step.
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