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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series, A Better Economy in the Cloud

My colleague Norm Jacknis (former CIO of Westchester County, New York) passed along a list of CIO concerns for 2013 that was prepared by Alan Shark of Public Technology Institute, a nonprofit that provides technology guidance to local government. The list for cities and counties included:

1. Big Data (Smart City)

2. Consolidation

3. GIS as centerpiece for strategic decision making

4. Mobility and broadband deployment

5. Cyber and network security

6. Cloud-based solutions

7. Legacy/modernization, RFP

8. Unified citizen engagement (311, social media)

9. Consumerization of technology (BYOD)

10. Shared services (across all jurisdictions)

What would you add or subtract?

I’d want to expand on a few of these items to include another emerging issue for CIOs and other government leaders: getting cities to embrace cloud and networking tools – while moving their urban economies forward.

Well, there’s good news to report on that overarching concern. There are several opportunities to learn more about how cities can embrace technology for economic growth:

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How Are You Going to Secure Your Cloud Network Infrastructure?

BirenProfilePicture-e1349971468612-300x369By Biren Mehta, Senior Marketing Manager, SP Marketing in Routing and Switching, Cisco

Cloud computing brings a significant shift in how IT services will be deployed, delivered and consumed.  This promises to bring significant benefits to both consumers and suppliers in terms of agility, automation, and cost.  However, security remains a key barrier to realizing these advantages as enterprises question data security, trust, visibility, and control issues over the provider’s network.

Last week, Read More »

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Virtualization Everywhere, but not a Cloud in Sight!

Customers have often said to me, “Joann, we have virtualization all over the place. That’s cloud isn’t it?”   My response is, “Well not really, that is not a cloud, but you can get to cloud!”  Then there is a brief uncomfortable silence, which I resolve with an action provoking explanation that I will now share with you.

Here’s why that isn’t truly a cloud. What these customers often have is server provisioning that automates the process of standing up new virtual servers while the storage, network, and application layers continue to be provisioned manually. The result is higher management costs that strain IT budgets, which are decreasing or flat to begin with. With this approach, businesses aren’t seeing the agility and flexibility they expected from cloud. So, they become frustrated when they see their costs rising and continue struggling to align with new business innovation.

If your IT department adopted widespread virtualization and thought it was cloud, my guess is you are probably nodding your head in agreement.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

So then, what are the key elements an organization needs to achieve the speed, flexibility and agility promised by cloud?

1)      Self-service portal and service catalog
The self-service portal is the starting point that customers use to order cloud services. Think of a self-service portal as a menu at a restaurant.  The end user is presented with a standardized menu of services that have been defined to IT’s policies and standards and customers simply order what they need.  Self-service portals greatly streamline resource deployment which reduces the manual effort by IT to provision resources.

2)      Service delivery automation
After the user selects services from the portal service menu, then what? Well, under the hood should be automated service delivery—which is a defining characteristic of a real cloud environment.  Behind each of the standardized menu items in the self-service portal is a blueprint or instructions that prescribe how the service order is delivered across the data center resources.  This has been proven to appreciably simplify IT operations, reduce costs and drive business flexibility.

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Cloud Myopia (Pitfall 3: I Can See the Data Center Clearly, but Users Look Blurry )

cloud infrastructure considerations vs. cloud data center considerationsSince my previous posts on cloud anomalies, Cisco did a worldwide survey of 1000+ IT professionals across 13 countries regarding their cloud deployments. The results reinforced challenges with performance and security and confirmed my inklings. However, one statistic was quite surprising. You would think data center is the lynchpin of cloud. However, when asked about the most critical infrastructure for cloud, 37% went for the network vs. 28% for virtualized data center. Well if cloud is all about data center consolidation, virtualization, and elasticity, then what’s the fuss about the network?  Read More »

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