In my conversations with different government organizations about Cloud Computing, three distinct challenges keep coming up.
#1: Reducing Costs. More than ever, agencies have the pressure to reduce costs at all levels. Dealing with shrinking budgets and demands for newer services has forced agencies to carefully look for areas that may be optimized or simplified. While many agencies struggle to keep the lights on, they are forced to look at alternate ways to provide services. Cloud services has become an attractive way to address those demands and provide new services to its citizens.
The pressure to reduce costs has also forced agencies with common needs to work together and find ways to collaborate and simplify operations. This is different from the past, where agencies could not justify or were not interested in combining computing resources with other agencies.
#2: Agility and Scalability. At the same time they are forced to reduce costs, agencies are also forced to achieve new levels of agility and innovation. The constant demand for new services and deployment of new technologies have forced agencies to consider services in the cloud in order to simplify and reduce their infrastructure footprint. While agencies may be solely focused on reducing costs, cloud applications can not only reduce the costs, but also give agencies a new level of agility and scalability.
The cloud allows agencies to pool resources to serve multiple customers using a multi-tenant model. These shared resources give agencies a sense of independence and elasticity, since resources may be dynamically assigned according to demand.
#3: Trust. IT leaders have always been exposed to complex projects, but new demands are challenging IT organization to their limit. While IT is constantly seeing as a cost center, new cloud technologies and service models give IT the opportunity to provide new functionality and to become a value center.
IT can make use of cloud delivery models as a way to increase inter-agency collaboration and to reduce costs. The cloud allows government agencies to scale services up (or down) as required at the same time that is able to meet business needs.
The list of challenges faced by government agencies is certainly much longer. Other challenges include security, transparency, privacy, and regulatory compliance. The new delivery model offered by the Cloud gives government agencies improved flexibility and a better experience to end-users.
My final thought on this? The journey to the cloud will be different for each government organization, but even with these challenges, Cloud Computing will permanently change the way government agencies do business and interact with their citizens. As part of the Cloud team for public sector, I look forward to helping you find the best path for your government organization. Please give a shout back to me in the comments section if you work for the government sector and have more thoughts to add.