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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series: The Strategic Value of the Cloud for State & Local Governments

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.

Cost Savings

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.

Resilience, Flexibility & Faster Technology Adoption

Potential cost reduction is not all there is to the story. There are other positive benefits as well.

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Fresh, Fast, and Local: Online Grocery Shopping is Coming

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By Jason Kohn, Contributing Columnist

Shoes? Check. Computer gear? Check. Clothes? Flatware? Hot tubs with built-in TVs? Check, check, and check. There’s almost nothing these days that we don’t buy online. But there is one area where the local brick-and-mortar store still reigns supreme: grocery shopping.

When it’s time to stock the fridge, the vast majority of us still do it the old fashioned way. We trek out to the store, walk up and down the aisles, and fill up physical rather than virtual shopping carts. But just maybe, that’s about to change. A number of retailers are experimenting with online groceries, and a growing number of consumers are ready to buy.

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Expanding Mobility with Community Wi-Fi: 40% of Consumers Regularly Connect to the Internet in a Friend’s Home

English poet John Donne said, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” The same could be said for a man’s — or woman’s — home network, which today is no longer his or hers alone. Friends and family increasingly expect to be able to connect their growing number of mobile devices to the Internet when they are at someone else’s home. In response, service providers (SPs) are creating Wi-Fi communities to enable users to connect safely and seamlessly to SPs’ Wi-Fi networks from other customers’ locations. Not only do SPs understand that there is pent-up customer demand for this sort of “community Wi-Fi” — they also realize that this model makes good business sense. This sort of service will enable them to expand the size of their Wi-Fi network quickly, differentiate their broadband offerings, acquire new customers, and manage customer churn.

Many SPs are now trying to understand how they can create a community Wi-Fi network among their broadband customers and reap new business benefits. However, there has been very little information available on customer behaviors to help SPs design a winning program and build the business case for further investment. To learn more, the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) conducted a survey of 1,060 Canadian mobile users to understand their needs and behaviors, their Read More »

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Probing Deeper into Minority Broadband Usage

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By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

John Horrigan spends a lot of time worrying about the digital divide – the chasm that divides certain demographic sectors when it comes to accessing information, transacting business, and interacting with government.

I wrote about this last year in Broadband: Exploring The Demographic Patterns, but Horrigan has dug a little deeper, both in his former position with Pew Internet Research and his current position as vice-president and director of the Media and Technology Institute at Washington, D.C.’s Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

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Move Over SDN – NFV Taking the Spotlight

Energetic debates of what SDN is and the expanding scope of what it can do for our customers continue to race along in a chaotic frenzy. In addition, the overall SDN market is somewhat fragmented in terms of both vendor positioning and marketing.  Collectively, the conversation really comes down to improving business agility and the efficiencies gained in bringing new services to market. Essentially, the goal is to enable operators to make their networks and services go much faster.

While software defined networking (SDN) technologies continue to drive significant entropy in our industry, Network Function Virtualization (NFV) recently rose up and became a key focus of many discussions at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month. Read More »

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