Almost everyone has heard of the “cloud,” as a result of advertising by computer companies and frequent mentions in the news media. “Cloud” refers to technology resources used by an organization that are not at their own location, but available over the global data communications network (otherwise called the Internet). Moreover, the cloud is not just a question of getting access to some big data center in the sky; ultimately, it means gaining authorized access to any data or computing resource that is part of the Internet, and even combining data and software components from physically distant computers.
Public officials may have heard about how the cloud is being used in the public sector. For example, the United States Conference of Mayors had a session on this at its 2011 meeting where various mayors spoke about how their cities were using such services as shared email “in the cloud.” At the National Association of Counties, there have been sessions describing a cloud that is restricted to trusted government agencies at the state and local levels — what some call the “private cloud” because its services are not available to every organization, thus helping preserve the privacy and integrity of government data.
But the reasons state and local government officials might want to use the cloud are not often explained. This post will describe the various ways that the cloud can provide strategic value to state and local governments.
Most people have first heard of the cloud as a means of saving money, which is especially attractive at a time of tighter budgets. So instead of buying hardware and software, a government agency rents what it needs, when it needs it. This approach means you can shift from using bonds and debt service to an approach that matches your IT budget with the real demand each year.
And, often, the software services available in the cloud, such as email, can cost less per employee than licensing equivalent software in-house.
Potential cost reduction is not all there is to the story. There are other positive benefits as well.
First, cloud enables your government to survive a major disaster, whether man-made or natural. With the cloud, as long as your employees can connect to the Internet, regardless of location, they will be able to continue operations. This is crucial during disasters, when people depend on the government to continue to operate.
Second, the cloud can increase government flexibility. Email is a good example. Email that is hosted in the cloud is available to your employees no matter where they are — on the road or in their normal office. (There are other ways to try to imitate this result, but those approaches are more demanding of your IT staff than using the cloud.) Flexibility also includes being able to respond to peak demand, since resources available in the cloud are vastly larger than any demand your government might require.
The third related benefit is faster adoption of technology. With traditional budgeting approaches, adoption of new technology may not be possible until the last technology investment has been amortized. In the cloud, you can jump on new technologies quicker because that financial obstacle no longer exists.
Collaboration and Data Sharing
The cloud makes it easier to connect from one government agency to another, which means that they can collaborate and share data more easily. This helps break down silos that annoy citizens and make public programs ineffective. (Beyond breaking down silos, the cloud also enables government to reduce or eliminate the duplication of expensive data centers.)
Focus on Citizens
The cloud also helps your staff focus on what’s important. If you do not consider IT to be a strategic tool or core competence of your government, then clearly it makes sense to depend upon the resources of the cloud rather than trying to build equivalent expertise within your own government.
Even if you view IT as a strategic tool — and I hope you do — the cloud enables your IT staff to shift from running data center operations to focusing on services they can deliver to citizens.
The cloud is more than just a good way to save some money; it also has strategic value as a means to govern better.
Stay tuned to the Cisco Government blog for the next installment of the cloud for local government blog series or click here to register and reserve your copy of the complete compilation of the blog series, including this blog as well as a variety of cloud resources, which will be available in May.
Mobile carriers face no shortage of pain points as new data streams create unprecedented and staggering amounts of information. But it is important to remember that pain points often arrive in tandem with new opportunities.
From my perspective, observing the driving forces shaping the mobile industry, five key trends stand out. All are laced with challenges and opportunities. And each represents a core element in an interconnected system that is pushing the entire marketplace forward, while demanding innovative breakthroughs in monetizing and optimizing data.
On February 25-28, I will be attending Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona. This year’s event is expected to be the largest ever, with 1,500 exhibitors. I expect these five trends will be major sources of discussion:
Video. We are already seeing the true inflection point in video where it becomes mainstream on multiple devices. The mobile and nomadic consumption of video—whether served by mobile carriers or localized Wi-Fi—is popular, commonplace, and growing rapidly. But video will completely reshape the demand side of the industry, creating enormous amounts of data. It threatens to load and clog networks, and it will demand new models for monetization.
“Everywhere we go in the world, the things that we come across aren’t intelligent. Like this wall that I’m looking at, it’s just separating the room from the other side. In actuality, that wall should be intelligent.”
He goes on to say, “The next 10 years [will be] nuts.” I couldn’t agree more.
Cisco defines IoE as bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before—turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries.
To help more people “get it,” I thought it would be useful to provide more detail about each of the components—people, process, data, and things—that make up IoE. Read More »
These days, the generation of data has become almost as constant as breathing. With every click or swipe, today’s mobile, hyperconnected consumers exhale an ever-expanding trail of digital details, revealing troves of information about their wants, needs, interests, well-being, and aspirations.
All of that data offers great promise for retailers looking to know their customers in deep, new ways in order to provide carefully targeted products and services. But it is also a source of headaches. Those same retailers are wrestling with a complex new realm of Big Data analytics, where a deluge of information from new sources like video, mobile, and social media threatens to swamp their capacity for processing. That is, if they can properly access those new data streams in the first place.
By Kate Griffin, Principal Consultant, IBSG Service Provider
Big Data has become top of mind among CxOs,but service providers (SPs) and most businesses today are just beginning to explore data analytics. “Big Data” generally refers to the growing scope of data analytics in terms of the variety, velocity, or volume of data involved. When this flood of Big Data is harnessed and refined, it has the power to transform economies, make businesses more efficient, and improve our daily interactions as consumers.
To assess service providers’ interest and readiness to take part in Big Data’s growth, the Cisco® Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) conducted in-depth interviews with executives from 12 global communication service providers. The SPs we interviewed see data analytics as a key opportunity. Some 80 percent of them consider Big Data an important strategic priority for their companies over the next three years. Cisco IBSG also tested key concepts concerning Big Data with 200 senior SP executives at the Telco 2.0 conference in London last summer through in-session polling questions. Eighty-eight percent of these delegates also view Big Data as a “very important” or an “important” strategic priority for the next three years (see Figure 1). Read More »