Public-sector agencies are moving to the cloud to reduce costs, improve processes, meet compliance requirements and gain agility. However, states and localities are at different stages of migration.
IDC Government Insights predicts that cloud computing — defined as accessing shared IT resources on demand over the Internet — will emerge as the primary platform for supporting Big Data analytics, mobile information and social media.
The Prevailing Trend
IDC reports that more than 70 percent of government organizations surveyed are researching, considering, piloting or using private cloud services, a number that falls to 57 percent for public cloud options.
The public sector perceives cloud computing services as critical for navigating exponential data growth, regulatory requirements and reduced budgets. Government IT leaders agree that cloud services will pave the way for more workloads to be transferred to lower-cost hosting platforms without the need to significantly invest in new hardware.
Plan for Long-Term Success
Think of the cloud as a long process in which a state or locality will perform its research, conduct pilots and slowly move applications and IT infrastructure to the cloud. IDC Government Insights offers some recommendations for how agencies can prepare for the journey:
- Develop a cloud strategy and roadmap. Legacy modernization and data center consolidation projects are essential in moving to the cloud, but first, organizations need a cloud strategy and roadmap. Successful cloud adoption also calls for a business, technology and staff assessment to identify the skills staff will need to acquire moving forward.
- Set goals that lead to new levels of services. Cloud computing offers an opportunity for the IT organization to improve service levels and offer more services to end users with the same staffing levels. To capture these efficiencies, set goals as part of the transition.
- Seek providers with government experience. Companies with experience deploying services for government are more likely to understand the constraints associated with handling legislated protected data and with other requirements, such as records management and transparency. Providers familiar with the public sector will understand an agency's risks and concerns about personally identifiable information, but those with less experience may require education.
- Make sure the provider offers consulting, training and implementation services. While external service providers can get a state or locality started with cloud and support ongoing operations, on-premises IT staff also need to develop skills to support and troubleshoot cloud environments. A strong in-house cloud skill set will provide options such as whether to outsource or keep cloud services on-premises. This gives organizations the flexibility to change cloud service providers or bring the service back in-house if that makes more sense.
- Connect the cloud to other new technology investments. Consider cloud an extension of existing on-premises and other new IT investments. Give users dynamic access to resources via a self-service portal and service catalog.
Above all, IDC recommends that governments experiment with and develop best practices for cloud computing. Becoming an organization that's focused on delivering web-based IT services as opposed to managing nitty-gritty IT tasks takes time.
The team must keep its eyes on the prize: what IDC calls an "optimized" cloud organization. An optimized agency has standardized policies governing the use of cloud services, has made the cloud a best practice and can easily move services on and off the cloud, as well as capture cost efficiencies and service benefits that can't be achieved with traditional deployments.
To learn more about how cloud computing solutions can help your organization get ahead, visit cdw.com/cloud.