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Why government agencies should consider moving to the Cloud

Today’s guest blogger is Hratch Achadjian, Senior Business Development Manager at SADA Systems. 

Whether you are a loyal government employee trying to improve how the affordable healthcare act enrolls new participants or a legislator looking to improve the inner-workings of our country, the recent Forbes article by Joe McKendrick is relevant to your business, as he makes excellent points on how the adoption of cloud offerings can not only save the US Government millions of dollars, but can also provide benefits beyond cost savings.

Coming from a background in finance, political consulting and five years of deploying Cloud solutions, I agree with many of the points Joe highlights.

Having had the opportunity of advising the following clients on transitioning to the Cloud; City of Los Angeles, City of Omaha /Douglas County Nebraska, Numerous Departments for the State of California, UC Berkeley, among many others, it is clear there are a wide spectrum of benefits clients can take advantage of.

Regardless of IaaS or PaaS – security and cost advantages range from business collaboration and easy web access of geospatial tools to unified enterprise search.  It therefore comes as no surprise that “95% of federal executives report their agencies would benefit from leveraging Platforms as a Service.” (McKendrick) After all why generate your own electricity when you can flip a switch and pay the utility company monthly, especially when you have a business or government to run?

Mckendrick’s points are sound – particularly when considering partnering with companies that were born in the Cloud like Amazon or Google.  The security protocols of these companies so outweigh those of legacy systems and administrators that irrespective of industry, partnering with the likes of Google and Amazon can provide otherwise unattainable results.

A few fun facts highlight the rigor with which these Cloud providers test their security standards.  Google, for example, the third largest IP in the world and the fourth largest server manufacturer (all for internal use), has the ability to analyze threats and defend against attacks preemptively on an unparalleled level.  This level of protection is accessible for relatively cheap, compared to the internal costs of building an equivalently secure system.  Surprisingly, despite the obvious economic benefits, market penetration of PaaS and IaaS is a mere 32% (McKendrick).  This begs the question of how the remaining IT leaders are addressing the security paradox.

Let’s take a tangible example.  The Affordable Healthcare Act enrollment process involves millions of individuals inputting sensitive PPI or HIPPA data into devices which store the data locally, rather than storing data in the Cloud guarded by the world’s foremost data security experts.

A better approach would be to leverage the cloud with thin-clients or kiosk type devices, which are relatively cheap, and do not store any information on the device itself, thereby eliminating the risk to patient information on a thumb drive or laptop.

It becomes clear that the security benefits and minimal management required are cost effective from both a hard and soft cost perspective.

Alternatively, those organizations still running platforms like Lotus are still spinning up servers to support internal applications. The Cloud infrastructure solution, on the contrary, costs less, offers more robust security and price elasticity helping to optimize costs and operations for most internal or external workflow/BI tools.

The use cases are endless whether you are considering examples for IaaS or PaaS.

Luckily not everyone is paralyzed by the fear of technology – the visionaries and the logical business folks understand that technology is no longer about managing the blue screen of death, patches and uptime. It’s about delivering on the expectations we, ironically, have formed in our personal lives. Our expectations around simplified relevant search, collaboration or data visualization are rational and simple to appease. Yet, at work, they are the bain of our existence slowing down governments and enterprises alike – where daily we have to search across multiple databases individually, sometimes not finding the answer we need and reluctantly recreating what we need.

This consumerisation of IT is easy to for organizations to learn from and innovate for all to benefit.

I have been fortunate in advising organizations both private enterprise and government – witnessing first hand the ROI they have realized from:

  • the benefits of reduced infrastructure

  • licensing costs

  • reduced management

  • the value IT has started adding back to their organization rather than managing email as a result of more available time.

If we look at the education sector as a leading indicator of what our business will look like in the near future 72 of the top 100 universities in the US including Harvard and others have leveraged some form of cloud technology for their students – our future leaders.

So if cost savings, or the best security for the dollar are not enough to convince you, perhaps capturing the best wave of up and coming talent for the longevity of your organization will be it.

Go Forward. Go Cloud.



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