Government agencies at the federal and state levels talk a good game about wanting to refresh legacy data center systems by moving as many of them to cloud services as possible. Instantly realized cost-savings, ease of use and increased data safety and workload effectiveness are all factors that can't be denied anymore.
But the reality all around the country is that due to budget restraints, personnel cutbacks and an inherent culture of cautiousness, this process for governments is slower than a child dawdling home from school with a bad report card.
Acknowledging that cloud computing is the way of the future, the TechAmerica Foundation on Feb. 16 released a 44-page report from its State and Local Government Cloud Commission that identifies and explains best practices and policies in cloud computing for state and local government. TechAmerica, a partnership of federal and state government representatives and 38 IT companies, also launched an interactive Web portal to go with the report.
"I don't want to overstate how far behind we are in government," California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (pictured) told a group of about 100 industry people, journalists and government officials from around the U.S. at a conference on Microsoft's Mountain View, Calif. campus.
"We've got to wake up. The problem is all these legacy systems. If we could start over, we'd be fine. But we''e stuck with all these old contracts." Newsom said.
Cloud computing is a win-win for governments, for citizens, and for the economy as a whole, Newsom said. It takes the technical complexity out of the hands of an already overworked government IT department while at the same time improving services for citizens, he added.
Some of the highlights of the report, a download of which can be obtained from the TechAmerica Website, are:
- complete descriptions and definitions of cloud services and infrastructures;
- identification of key services models, such as software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS);
- an assessment of vulnerability risk management; and
- a list of operations best practices, including standardized services and process; adoption of new application architectures; capacity monitoring and planning/budgeting; process automation; and people skills and managed services integration.
As for acquiring cloud-based IT, the report cites as the following key takeaways:
- Successful procurement entails three key issues: procurement vehicles, contractual terms and funding streams.
- Procurement vehicles in use today may not be optimal for acquiring cloud services and may be offered by government consortia or by the federal government.
- Contract vehicles for cloud services are also offered by multi-government consortia and the federal government.
- Because the private cloud has dominated state CIO discussions, needs such as varying application requirements for test and development environments, prototyping and collaboration/email are gaining ground.
Launched in 1981, TechAmerica Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan affiliate of TechAmerica, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group for the U.S. technology industry. The foundation disseminates industry, policy and market research covering topics such as U.S. competitiveness in a global economy, innovation in government, defense and federal IT forecasts, technology employment and international trade indicators, and other areas of national interest.
This article was originally published on 02-17-2012