New proof: Governments are moving to the cloud. Is your city falling behind?

Wed, 2013-10-23 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

Government cloudJust last week we told you about how Council Lead Partner Microsoft is making the cloud better for government. Now two more developments suggest cities not yet on the cloud bandwagon may want to hop on soon. The first is an announcement from IT firm Unisys about a survey that found nearly half of state and local governments in the U.S. have started or are planning cloud projects. Why? Many of the government IT leaders who participated in the survey cited the hardware and software capital and maintenance cost savings as their top reason; others mentioned the ability to meet the demands of a growing mobile workforce. You can read the full release on the survey that was conducted by the Center for Digital Government below. 

The other news comes from Accela, a provider of cloud services for governments. The San Ramon, California-based company announced last week it has secured $40 million in Series D funding to accelerate its civic engagement and civic cloud solutions.

“This funding validates our vision of creating better government with great technology and innovation. We believe that Accela’s Civic Platform empowers agencies to engage their citizens directly through their PCs and mobile devices rather than by waiting in line at city hall,” said Maury Blackman, president and CEO of Accela. “Cloud computing has impacted the way organizations of all types and sizes buy, consume and manage IT-powered business functions. The interest from outside investors highlights both the value of the civic cloud for government efficacy and the need for two-way communication between government agencies and the citizens and businesses they serve.”

Another recent announcement from Accela of interest to cities: The beta availability of, a free cloud-based open data platform intended to make it easier for government agencies to publish and manage datasets. The service will give Accela customers and prospects the ability to provide rich government data to developers and citizens looking to transform data into civic solutions.

Nearly Half of U.S. State and Local Governments Have Started or Are Planning Cloud Projects, New Unisys Survey Shows

 Government IT leaders cite potential hardware and software capital and maintenance cost savings as top reason for cloud adoption

PHILADELPHIA, Pa., October 15, 2013 – Nearly half of U.S. state and local government IT business leaders surveyed say they are planning or are currently engaged in cloud computing endeavors, according to new survey results announced today by Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS).

Recent Unisys-sponsored research, conducted by the Center for Digital Government and announced at the NASCIO 2013 Annual Conference here, found that 32 percent of government IT professionals surveyed said their state or municipality is migrating to a cloud computing environment, with an additional 14 percent reporting they are currently planning to do so. Of the 109 respondents, 42 percent said their jurisdictions had not implemented a cloud offering and were not planning to.

Nearly a quarter of respondents cited hardware and software capital and maintenance cost savings as their number one reason for moving to the cloud. In addition, about one-fifth of respondents said the ability to meet the demands of a growing mobile workforce was their top reason for cloud adoption, with 46 percent of all respondents reporting they have or are planning to implement mobility or bring-your-own-device programs.

The survey also found that security remains a concern for governments contemplating a move to the cloud. When asked about the key barriers to adopting the cloud, 71 percent of respondents cited data security. The other two most cited barriers were “integration with existing systems” and “regulatory compliance,” cited by 42 percent and 40 percent of respondents, respectively.

“This survey illustrates that U.S. state and local government IT professionals are beginning to see the benefits of moving to the cloud, with many taking the first steps to obtain the cost savings and efficiencies the cloud offers,” said Crystal Cooper, vice president of public sector solutions at Unisys. “Despite continued concerns about cloud security, agencies are recognizing that the cloud can help them reduce costs, adopt mobile devices into their organizations, and modernize old legacy software applications. We expect to see increased focus on cloud projects through contracts such as the Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA) cloud hosting services vehicle held by Unisys”

Of those respondents who reported they have cloud projects underway or plans to move to the cloud, 70 percent said they are looking to the cloud to host web applications, while 60 percent said they would use the cloud for data storage. Forty percent said they are moving their email to the cloud.

The Center for Digital Government conducted the survey for Unisys in July and August 2013. It went out to 109 U.S. state and local government professionals in 18 states located across the country and in a variety of business areas including finance, law enforcement, and health and human services.

About Unisys

Unisys is a worldwide information technology company. We provide a portfolio of IT services, software, and technology that solves critical problems for clients. We specialize in helping clients secure their operations, increase the efficiency and utilization of their data centers, enhance support to their end users and constituents, and modernize their enterprise applications. To provide these services and solutions, we bring together offerings and capabilities in outsourcing services, systems integration and consulting services, infrastructure services, maintenance services, and high-end server technology. With approximately 22,500 employees, Unisys serves commercial organizations and government agencies throughout the world. For more information, visit


Get SmartCitiesNow, a weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques from the Smart Cities Council.