Collaboration technologies power a new way of working where everyone, everywhere can be more productive through face-to-face and instantaneous communication. In previous posts, we’ve discussed how VoIP, TelePresence and Mobile Collaboration are reshaping the government workspace. For those organizations that often forced to do more with less, flexibility in service models is essential to accessing these transformative technologies.
As we’ve seen in education, the move from on-premise service models to the cloud gives organizations the ability to deploy advanced collaboration services while minimizing the requirements of an upfront investment. But a hosted delivery model not only minimizes cost, it also increases efficiency and effectiveness, reduces the burden on IT staff and ensures access to the latest releases.. With the right deployment model government workers can access the collaboration tools they want, whenever they need them.
When the City of Charlotte, North Carolina was preparing to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention cloud was the easy choice. With Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) the city was able to integrate its contact call centers and deliver excellent caller experiences to citizens and visitors before and after the political convention. With Cisco HCS the city found a solution that scaled to meet their needs during a major event and continues to better serve its citizens. But the benefits of choosing cloud don’t end there. With cloud services the City of Charlotte has lowered the total cost of ownership for the contact centers saving the city more than $100,000 a year!
With that kind of financial and operational flexibility, it’s not a surprise that more agencies are turning to hosted solutions. Is your government organization ready to take advantage of the cloud?
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.
This weekend, as the United States celebrates Veterans Day, Cisco’s Global Government team would like to thank all those who have and continue to serve.
The world is continuously changing, bringing new and complex challenges and now, more than ever, communities and citizens need and expect a connected government, one that will enable local government to be there to help, to serve and to protect, no matter what the circumstance.
A connected government is about creating new possibilities for citizens and employees. It’s about breaking down silos between agencies and departments, providing cost-effective solutions, increasing operational efficiencies, and delivering better, faster, real-time services. It’s about understanding how the world is changing, and adapting to that change with scalable, long term, solutions made possible through technology.
As governments of today face these variety of challenges, new and innovative approaches are being implemented and some local governments are leading the way by deploying cloud and mobility solutions to overcome these challenges in a collaborative and timely manner.
Our latest public sector video highlights some examples of how these challenges are being addressed globally.
The Global Certification Team (GCT) is pleased to announce the DoD UCAPL approval of the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM)! The CUCM was listed on Release (Rel) 8.6 as a Local Session Controller (LSC) with Tracking number (TN) 1108301.
As the core of the Cisco Collaboration portfolio infrastructure, Cisco Unified Communications Manager is a unified communications call control platform that can deliver the right experience to the right endpoint. Find out more about CUCM at Cisco.com
The GCT is equally proud to announce the DoD UCAPL approval of the following Cisco Unity Connection (Unity) configurations:
Cisco Unity Connection Rel. 220.127.116.1102-1 TN 1109701 as a Customer Premise Equipment (CPE)
Cisco Unity Connection Rel. 18.104.22.16802-1 with PIMG Analog interface TN 1109802 as a CPE
Cisco Unity Connection Rel. 22.214.171.12402-1 with PIMG Digital interface TN 1109803 as a CPE
Cisco Unity Connection Rel. 126.96.36.19902-1 with TIMG interface TN 1109804 as a CPE
Cisco Unity® Connection is a feature-rich voice and unified messaging platform based on the same Linux Unified Communications Operating System as Cisco Unified Communications Manager. With Cisco Unity Connection, you can access and manage voice messages in a variety of ways, using your email inbox, web browser, Cisco Unified IP Phone, smartphones, Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, and more. Cisco Unity Connection also provides robust speech-recognition features for when you are mobile, so you can manage your voice messages hands- and eyes-free. Learn more about Cisco Unity Connection on Cisco.com.