A fast track to the cloud? Cities find more reasons to take it

Wed, 2015-10-07 06:00 -- Kevin Ebi

Despite a call from the highest levels of federal government to migrate to the cloud, there’s no question that the public sector has lagged behind the private sector when it comes to actually making the move.

But as a new express lane to the cloud opens, the service is not only getting faster, the pace of adoption may be picking up as well. Analysts say that cities dealing with everything from budget cuts to pressure to offer more innovative services may want to make their own cloud migration a top priority.

Time may be right for cloud move
It was 2010 when the federal government’s chief information officer directed all its agencies to consider the cloud first when planning any IT project. Five years later, the federal government’s cloud adoption rate is still below 5%. Adoption has been even slower than the slowest government forecasts.

But that may change very soon — and dramatically. Cities like Miami are having great success with their cloud initiatives and others are finally taking notice.

For Miami, the cloud was the answer to the question of how you can do more with less. The city has already migrated most of its locally-based software to the cloud, saying that move has been key to its goal of cutting costs without cutting services. Its chief information officer says the cloud has freed resources -- money and personnel -- to a “very significant degree.”

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the State of Alabama are now considering cloud initiatives of their own. Analysts believe we're on the verge of an explosion of cloud adoption from cities all the way to the federal government.

New “express route” opens
Council Lead Partner Microsoft is working to make the cloud more attractive for government by opening a new ExpressRoute that provides a direct connection to its cloud services, bypassing regular Internet traffic entirely.

Microsoft says its ExpressRoute can be available for all levels of government. With latency as low as 1 ms, it says government agencies get performance from its cloud services that’s similar to what they would get if they still used their own hardware.

Verizon, another Council Lead Partner, has also added Microsoft’s ExpressRoute to its Secure Cloud Interconnect service, which in addition to enhanced security, gives government agencies more control over their data usage and performance levels.

Focus on security
Some experts believe that security concerns have been the main thing holding cities back, but even that is changing. Cities have more options than ever for securing their cloud connections, whether city staff are in the office or out in the field.

Council Lead Partners IBM and AT&T are teaming up on a new initiative to improve mobile access to cloud services. Together, their offerings help cities manage and control mobile devices while providing a secure connection to a private cloud for applications and data.

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