Last week, Huddle’s public sector team presented a brief introduction to cloud computing in government. The first question covered during the session was: “What is cloud computing?”
The answer to this is that “cloud computing” is a broad term covering the use of any software, data, platform or infrastructure that is remotely accessible via a computer network and provided as a service. For example, Huddle is Software as a Service (SaaS) and users can sign into their account and securely access their content from any device, at any time of day.
So, what are the key cloud computing benefits in government, how can it help with cost cutting and improving efficiencies and what are the security considerations? Firstly, there are three key benefits of cloud computing in government:
- Low fixed cost: Your supplier takes on the burden of infrastructure costs, maintenance and training, so you simply pay for what you use.
- Availability: When outsourcing to the cloud availability is often a key concern. However, your supplier should be an expert on both the web and web applications and they are likely to offer better support than you currently have for internal systems. Is there a member of the IT department on call 24/7 should a server go down? Many cloud service providers have 99.9% uptime, extensive back-up systems and disaster recovery measures in place.
- Ability to Scale: Whereas traditional systems require long lead times and procurement schedules to upgrade, cloud systems generally allow you to scale rapidly and elastically, multiplying your usage within hours or days, or reducing it as and when required.
The second query to cover is the cloud and cuts. With budgets being reduced and doing more with less moving higher up everyone’s agenda, cloud services can provide a number of money saving advantages over traditional systems:
- Reduce Meetings: Services such as web and phone conferencing allow you to reduce physical meetings. For example, by sharing a presentation with colleagues, just as the team did during the webinar, you can reduce travel costs and save time.
- Knowledge management: The cloud allows information and best practice to be pooled together, especially if projects are going to be postponed, or a department restructured. Everyone can securely access the information they need and there is no confusion over the progress made on a project and who has completed what.
- Coordinating shared services: For example, with two or three councils coming together with police, fire or ambulance services to save money.
- Securely access content anytime, anywhere: Allowing people to work from home more easily or, when appropriate, using mobile devices can increase productivity and efficiency.
- Return on investment: Huddle can provide detailed statistics on how much you’re using the application and how quickly your usage is growing.
- High user adoption: People like intuitive services, such as Huddle, and when they enjoy using tools that help them to get a job done, the whole organization benefits. The more people use a tool effectively, the better the return on investment.
On Friday, I will cover the considerations around cloud and security in the government.