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The State of the Cloud in Government

4 Apr 2016 by Jessica Hall

Government agencies understand the benefits of the cloud, including cost savings, increased efficiency and streamlined processes. But there’s one major concern preventing agencies from migrating applications to the cloud — security.

Though the federal government can’t solely rely on the same public cloud that powers some of our favorite consumer applications like Netflix or Instagram, these organizations can benefit from private cloud environments, which offer elasticity while providing more reliability and security.

Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) professionals will agree the cloud not only transforms and modernizes an agency’s approach, but it also addresses three common concerns within government agencies.

Reducing costs

According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, seven critical federal agencies saved a total of $96 million between 2012 and 2014 by migrating to cloud computing. Additionally, the State of Delaware estimates it has saved $5 million each year since it transitioned to the cloud in 2009. NASA also cut operations and maintenance expenditures nearly in half as soon as the organization moved its online presence to the cloud.

The chair of the oversight committee’s subcommittee on IT, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), reported the government approximates that 80% of the government’s IT expenditures relate to the maintenance of legacy tools and platforms. Without the costs of scaling up, maintaining software, unused storage space or updating software, government agencies that have made the transition to cloud applications and environments will see a beneficial impact on their bottom lines.

But none of that matters if it comes at the cost of security. And relying on aging solutions can leave a government agency susceptible to attacks.

Maintaining security

“In reality, cloud-based servers are as secure, if not more secure, than traditional on-premise servers,” says Harish Krishnamurthy, senior vice president of Insight cloud. He also points out, “Anti-virus, intrusion detection, network and data protection software are typically built into the cloud platforms, ensuring they’re designed to be secure in an integrated approach.”

Agencies that address mission-critical operations with cloud computing also need to incorporate rigorous compliance and robust security procedures. Some agencies have opted to take the hybrid cloud approach, allowing them to migrate public-facing applications to the public cloud and using private cloud-based solutions for internal systems and operations.

The U.S. Army employs this exact method, connecting its cloud environment to an on-premise infrastructure. The hybrid strategy helps the Army gain better insights with the ability to widen its use of data analytics. It also offers the benefits of enhanced performance, improved security and increased reliability.

However, increased or comparable security doesn’t mean much if it comes at the cost of the constituent’s experience. By decreasing the number of concerns that IT professionals need to worry about via a securely built and run system, your team can concentrate on implementation and making improvements to what they deliver.

Providing better service

Seeking to more efficiently manage its building inspections, the City of Miami leveraged a cloud-based application to streamline scheduling. In moving to the cloud, the city was able to significantly enhance the experience for businesses and citizens alike.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services migrated to the cloud, as the organization required its legacy case management tool be replaced promptly. It was able to implement the tool in only a few months, ensuring the agency could continue to offer its important services.

Whether it’s increased operational efficiencies, freeing time to focus on what matters most, enhancing a government agency’s agility or decreasing the time it takes to serve citizens, the cloud addresses many mission-critical objectives and common concerns.

“Building an app that spends it entire life in the same public cloud is the ideal cloud application model. Stepping outside of this model is more realistic, but it presents challenges for I&O professionals. The cloud conversation often centers on connectivity and movement of apps, increasing interest in open-source tooling to bypass aspects of vendor lock-in, excitement around containers or API management,” according to Forrester’s report published December 2015, “The State Of The Cloud: Migration, Portability, And Interoperability, Q4 2015.”

Download Forrester’s report to explore key considerations for planning a migration to the cloud, or making changes to your existing cloud environments and applications.

Forrester interviewed more than 25 enterprise and vendor thought leaders, including Insight, for this report.