IDC Government Insights titled How IT Consumption Is Changing in the Public Sector indicates that many constituents are looking for Anything as a Service (XaaS) with a high level of availability while IT departments are charged with providing these services at a low total cost of ownership. Using public, private, and hybrid clouds along with Software as a Service (SaaS), many government entities are already seeing the quantifiable benefits of the cloud.
- Financial - The costs savings seen by the government can be extraordinary. Somerset County in Maine saw a cost savings in their IT operations by 40% and CDW G has found in their 2013 State of the Cloud Report, that organizations are seeing average IT costs cut by 13% with increases to 25% over four years. This cost savings provides needed room in often shrinking budgets.
- Agility - As demands for mobile and web applications continue to grow the ability to expand and modify services continues to be a requirement for many. While traditional on-premise environments may require the purchase of new hardware and software, hiring of staff, and allow time for procurement, cloud services can be provisioned in minutes. This allows IT departments to scale up or down and pay only for the services in use.
- Availability & DR - In order to meet the growing needs of 24x7x365 access while providing highly available services, governments must have built-in redundancy and disaster recovery to provide at least three 9's of availability. Cloud providers have recognized this require and have built their services around these requirements. The Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) has recognized that DR is one of the many benefits of cloud computing. These DR solutions are often included as standard services and have a lower TCO, Recovery Point Objective and Recovery Time Objective than on-premise solutions.
- Security Misconceptions - For many public sector entities, the myth the cloud has inherently less security is often thought to be a barrier for entry into cloud services. In fact, Online Tech , has found that cloud hosting is often more secure than on-premise environments due to their increased technical security and staffing. This is especially the case with FedRAMP-certified cloud environments. The implementation of security standards like the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), SSAE 16 Type 2, the Health Industry Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and others ensure that cloud providers are meeting stringent guidelines with documented processes, procedures, and qualified staff.
- Cloud Knowledge and Expertise - Another barrier to entry has been the need to expand cloud awareness and increase training on cloud technologies. Despite the proliferation of cloud services in multiple sectors, a recent UK study s hows that 88% of civil servants would need additional training to understand how cloud is relevant. For those cloud related projects that have made it into a government's IT plan, Dods Research has found that 45% of public sector staff don't feel the current IT workforce has the skills needed to implement or manage the cloud. Another 56% don't think reforms will be implemented with 43% of senior officials expressing that specialists need to be brought in to help public sector move forward. These disturbing numbers show an immediate need for public sector to become aware of the benefits of cloud and the knowledge to successfully migrate or implement when appropriate.
Vendors with experience in both private and public sector cloud services can provide immediate value to public sector IT departments. NTT DATA's Cloud Advisory Services is able to assist in managing the full cloud lifecycle. The Cloud Advisory Services team deliver workshops like Cloud Defogger®, which provide a fundamental understanding of cloud models, how each one is relevant and can yield meaningful, sustainable benefits. A Cloud Direct workshop can provide a more detailed assessment to understand readiness and help develop the framework for moving to the cloud. The use of Cloud Brokerage services can help to simplify and manage the process of individual agencies and their constituents acquiring and implementing the cloud.
By working with a qualified cloud advisor like NTT DATA, Inc, clients can overcome the initial barriers for entry into public sector cloud services and realize the value of the cloud.
Nathan Aeder, Senior Manager, Cloud Advisory Services - Senior Cloud Strategist