The Government And The Cloud: Defining The Relationship

The Government and the Cloud: Defining the Relationship

They say change comes slowly or not at all. The cloud computing movement is thankfully maintaining a slow crawl over the powers-that-be in our governments at every level: local, state, national, even international. (But let’s save the complex, meaty discussion of the global cloud for another piece.) Although practically all of us are quite aware of the influence cloud exerts over the Internet-savvy members of our communities — that is to say, “everybody” — the government still hesitates to truly engage with the growing technological power. True, our leaders and their processes rarely belly-flop into any venture. Yet, with the pace at which cloud is growing, shouldn’t our leading administration make a bigger effort to get hip?

One cogent reason for that hipness to set in asap is how cloud computing is rewriting the definition of boundary in government. Specifically, the cloud is slowly but surely restructuring the division between the public and private sectors. The concept of information technology as business is a primary impetus in this restructuring. Certain sectors predicted last May that the cloud would explode into both sectors, and that prognostication seems to be holding true. Yet a failure to acknowledge and embrace this news will sooner or later do harm to how relevant and effectual our country’s management can be.

In light of this news, should each jurisdiction of government, at every level, conduct a cloud summit? Such a measure would grant an organization the time and focus to clearly consider the place of cloud in both culture and leadership today, potentially equipping it with advantages that streamline and optimize operations. What would a hypothetical version of such a summit comprise of? Surely it should deal with, at a minimum, the precise applications that should be placed in the cloud; the concept and implementation of data security; and the importance of the cloud to daily operations and to a long-term governmental strategy.

Getting governmental bodies comfortable with the concept of the cloud could prove more than a notion. Bureacracy’s well-worn hesitancy to adopt to speedy change position it at odds with cloud computing, whose clout mushrooms by the hour it seems. Enlisting well-vetted experts will be essential to establishing a safe and structured framework through which to introduce cloud’s possibilities to top brass in charge.

The government’s penchant to deliberate and filibuster will not accommodate cloud’s growth. Perhaps launching small projects and endeavors in the cloud, as a form of reconnaissance, would prove best. Detailed and pertinent analyses of those endeavors on their influence would definitely need to couple such investigations.

What are your ideas on how cloud and government can best harmonize and potentially improve one another?

By Jeff Norman

About Jeff Norman

Jeff Norman is a freelance writer currently based in New York City. He's moved into writing about cloud computing from substantial work in culture and the arts. He earned his undergraduate degree in English at Stanford and has studied at Oxford and Cambridge.

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2 Responses to The Government And The Cloud: Defining The Relationship

  1. Government agencies and private sector businesses face many of the same challenges, including barriers to interoperability, consistent security policies, centralized management and oversight. Some are baked in to the existing process (legislated) and others are institutionally limiting the issue. Seems like the answer is to use a common flexible platform(s) across a myriad of public, private and traditional IT resources, rather than let each group choose for themselves. For many, lack of cloud computing foresight results in unneeded, unwanted lock-in and security issues, rather than a broader working hybrid or converged cloud approach. I’m not sure that government (Federal IT in particular) is dragging its feet). The $5.5 Billion in Federal IT cost savings, reported by CloudTweaks seems significant and relatively quick to me. The key, long term is how those security, manageability and interoperability issues are measured. –Paul Calento

  2.  @pcalento The Government has the feet on the ground and government services in the cloud seem contradictory at first glance. Government agencies often have access to highly confidential data and, therefore, are frequent targets of hackers. Those responsible for government IT must ensure that their suppliers of cloud-based services can provide effective protection and solid security protocols before placing important data services and platforms based on this technology. Consolidation of data centers, reducing hardware and software maintenance costs, shift technical policy toward Cloud First are some barriers. This shift to the cloud occurs in the context of economy initiated by the government and potential savings that implies the cloud.

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