The time has come. Political, social and especially economic realities are driving federal, state and local governments both to improve services and to save money. Cloud can help with both.
Sensing the convergence of business and technology trends, in September 2011 the TechAmerica Foundation formed a group of experts to develop guidance for helping state and local governments evaluate, adopt and implement cloud computing. This initiative follows the Foundation’s earlier release of a blueprint for the U.S. federal government’s adoption of cloud computing, which supported President Obama’s Administration’s cloud-first strategy for government technology and for driving U.S. commercial leadership and innovation.
The Commission believes, cloud computing and its surrounding technologies will continue to evolve rapidly. As needs and requirements change, technologies and processes will respond. The Commission encourages state and local governments to engage on cloud and, quite frankly, to join the cloud revolution and welcomes them to the cloud transformation of IT-based services.
The Tech America Foundation report shows how state and local governments can use cloud computing. It explains what cloud is and how it can transform government. It identifies successful uses of cloud and sources of advice on how to better serve citizens — and annually save up to tens of millions of dollars. It shows that cloud’s support for enhanced collaboration and improved services make it an imperative for state and local governments.
Governments, much like users in the commercial space, have traditionally purchased and operated their own hardware and software. With the new cloud computing approach, a provider entity offers some or all of these IT resources as a service, reducing what the government must do for itself. The provider supports a group of cloud consumers, reducing cost, increasing flexibility and promising improved operations. Like all new technologies, cloud raises some important questions and concerns, but it also offers compelling opportunities. The Tech America report draws on industry experts and early adopter experience to help state and local governments answer questions and resolve concerns so they can benefit from opportunities.
According to the SLG-CC /Commission, despite a challenging economic environment, state government IT budgets are beginning to trend upwards, but still down approximately nine percent from pre-economic downturn numbers in 2011. If adoption of the cloud is to be cost-effective, state and local governments need to think less about long-term budget cycles and more about near-term savings. This process requires identifying existing applications that could be migrated to cloud-based solutions. Potentially, the savings from adopting cloud solutions could be reinvested into other areas of mission-critical need for the state and its residents.
In its research, which included interviews with state CIO’s and local government IT managers, the SLG-CC Commission found various methods of how state governments are funding cloud projects. Among the Commission’s best practices findings and recommendations: