The history of Cloud Computing goes back at least to the 1990s. However, its applications were limited up until around 2008 when the wider B2B and B2C benefits became clearer. While large-scale enterprises were among the early adopters, it’s reasonable to expect that such a technology would draw the attention of governments. In fact, since 2013 we have seen governments adopting cloud computing technology.
Benefits of Governments Adopting Cloud Technology
Analysts expect public infrastructure cloud investment to increase as the 2020s get underway. Government reports find the following uses are appropriate between departments, and for public interaction.
- The user (individual or department) can access real-time information without asking for release from an administrator or service provider. This is particularly useful for out of office access.
- Broad access for multiple departments means efficiency of data and systems, and cost savings for constantly expanding public services. This is one of the main drivers for governments adopting cloud services.
- Aside from cost savings, pooled resources can make data storage and management more efficient. At the same time, data processing can be done faster, leading to better programme execution.
- Scaling is a major advantage for governments that traditionally have a long decision-making process. By the time they are fully implemented and users are adequately trained, some technologies run the risk of going obsolete. Cloud on the other hand, is scalable up and down and transferable to new systems.
- Improved and scalable reporting is vital for helping developers and service users understand the resource usage, justify expenses, and manage logistics of their programmes. Cloud systems are second to none for transparency.
These are not just theoretical reasons for governments adopting cloud technologies. The following case studies show current government cloud projects.
Case Study: Singapore
In 2018, the government of Singapore announced a bold and ambitious plan to migrate most government IT infrastructure by 2023. This is an ongoing learning process for Singapore. They expect to learn as they go and simultaneously develop bolder and more ambitious migrations. Singapore was one of the first to recognise the cost-savings that can come from an integrated IT system and data sharing operation.
Singapore is using commercially available products for many systems currently stored off the cloud. One of the surprise announcements in 2018 was the intended development of a custom government cloud. This would give the government full operational control over those systems that could not go onto the commercial cloud while still benefiting from compatibility across both systems. An added benefit would free up government human resources to work on content management rather than piecing building web services from the ground up.
The so-called Singapore Government Technology Stack will provide the building blocks of the five-year plan to develop both infrastructure and software management so that new government software can move swiftly to testing, and again to implementation phase.
Case Study: USA
The USA is recognised as one of the earliest adopters when it comes to governments adopting cloud computing technology. Their primary concern has been to unify and standardise data and infrastructure and to minimise compatibility problems. Sharing services saves taxpayers money and reduces wasted resources. It’s been standard practice for government agencies in the US to share infrastructure where possible and data where necessary. Moves have been made in recent years to close servers and unify the data and processing.
Enterprise-level applications include asset management, detection of high-level crime such as fraud, crime prevention, and continuous data monitoring. The advantage of governments adopting cloud computing technology for these large-scale programs is the potential for scalability in line with changing technology and government needs.
The US government has also applied cloud technology to some citizen services. Now, nearly all local, state and even federal government bodies use it. This includes offices that manage medical records, loan applications, and licenses. In fact other countries have followed in the footsteps of the Obama administration’s Open Government Initiative, resulting in higher levels of transparency in decision making and legislation.
Case Study: Greece
In the middle of the last decade, three documents from the European Union laid out the benefits of member governments adopting cloud computing technology:
- The European Commission eGovernment Action Plan
- The Digital Agenda for Europe
- The European Cloud Computing Strategy
In response, the Greek government set out the foundations of a national E-Government Strategy. This they said was designed to build trust in and improve efficiency of governance for commerce in the country and for citizen engagement. This includes IaaS, SaaS, and of course Cloud Technology with a view to persistent and ongoing upgrades.
However, Greece experienced multiple problems including outdated data protection laws (pre-GDPR) and a lack of interoperability and scalability. Nevertheless, they moved ahead with several cloud adoption schemes including “Improve My City” which enabled citizens to report non-emergency issues to local government such as faulty streetlights and rock falls through their smartphones. For tourism, the government applied Cloud technology to run virtual tours and connect with local businesses. It’s a slow process, but Greece is now making moves in the right direction.
Cloud Technology is Here to Stay
Storing data and infrastructure in Cloud systems solves many of the problems of the past. Private enterprise may have led the way, but individuals quickly followed suit. Now, with governments adopting cloud computing technology across the board, it’s clear that this technology is here to stay. The next phase of cloud computing is about to get even more exciting.
Not sure about the difference between cloud hosting and on-premise hosting? You may want to read our article Cloud Hosting Versus On-Premise Hosting: What’s The Difference?