Cloud Computing for the Public Sector

The Benefits of Switching to Cloud Computing for the Public Sector
Cutting costs. Efficiency. Staying agile. These are universal business goals, even for the public sector. Perhaps that’s why in 2011, the Federal government introduced the “Cloud First Initiative,” which mandated that government agencies transition away from traditional computing setups to web-based applications. Cloud computing offers a significant opportunity for the public sector to reduce spending, improve existing services for the public, and streamline development with more agile software. Here’s a variety of reasons cloud adoption may be the next logical step for every government agency.

1. Cost Reduction

The most attractive feature of cloud computing is the chance to cut costs across the board. Information technology is costly, not just in development, but in terms of square footage necessary to store the hardware. A huge attraction for departments, agencies, or governments turning to cloud storage is the chance to reduce dependency on server farms. Removing the need for in-house data centers will mean savings on real estate and energy costs. In addition, in-house IT staff won’t have to spend as much time performing routine maintenance or break-fixes. Instead, they can focus on more critical projects that advance the department or community.

2. More Reliable and Comprehensive Services

A large goal of implementing cloud computing at any organization is to make services more accessible. With non-location specific storage, a public entity could theoretically make applications widely available to citizens, regardless of where they’re located. For example, we helped the Indiana Secretary of State ensure the quality of INBiz, the state’s online portal for forming business entities. Part of the project meant ensuring the portal integrated fully into the office’s back-end, while still keeping live the portions of the site that manage user needs and process citizens’ payments.

3. Greater Security

One reason many public sector officials don’t want to adopt cloud technologies is the issue of security risks. This is an understandable and real concern, considering the amount of constituent data stored on government-owned servers. However, cloud operations today have evolved to be just as secure as traditional on-site server setups, if not more so. In fact, in the U.S. Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, specialists found numerous potential security benefits. One standout is the ease of recovering any lost data following a crash. Because your files are stored in the cloud, a security breach or system error can be corrected with a few simple clicks. Additionally, the cloud is platform agnostic, meaning any piece of software or component will fit seamlessly with the rest of your system. Public sector administrators can expect easier system management, less necessary maintenance, and an overall more reliable system after transitioning to the cloud.

4. More Agile

Cloud adoption can actually help relieve public sector growing pains through a variety of features and opportunities. Taking some or all of your processes to the cloud might make the short-term a little more complicated, but long-term the benefits are huge, as long as you approach it with strategy and planning. With mobile workplaces on the rise, a virtualized desktop could potentially allow public servants to work from anywhere. Cloud based platforms also mean it’s easier to grow as a community. As more people use your applications, the increased usage can slow your system to a grind. But scaling to meet demand is a breeze with cloud computing. Your admins can simply add more capacity to be certain everything is running at top speed. When the time comes to roll out an update, your programmers will be able to instantly deploy new products preinstalled on virtual machines. To put it simply, it’ll make life easier on your employees and require less work from you in the long run.

It may seem overwhelming to disrupt the traditional forms of computing in your organization. However, cloud-based platforms can help you to cut costs, stay agile, engage better with citizens, and still remain as secure as ever. If you’re looking to make the switch but are unsure of where to start, contact iLAB today, or download our free step-by-step guide to pulling off a cloud transition.