Anyone reading a technology Web site or print publication today cannot help but come across all kinds of articles about cloud computing. It’s often cited as the next “big thing,” but in its 2009 Hype Cycle Special Report, Gartner, the technology research and advisory company, listed cloud computing among those trends that have reached the “Peak of Inflated Expectations.” As best I can tell, cloud computing is about one part hype, one part clever marketing and two parts potential.
At the heart of clouding computing is the pooling of IT resources across organizational boundaries. The concept should sound familiar to anyone who’s followed what we’re doing to transform the state’s IT enterprise. Instead of state agencies maintaining their own, separate IT operations, we’ve transferred the responsibility for delivering technology services to IBM and AT&T, which provide a shared-services environment.
We are moving Georgia state agencies to a private government cloud. We will share technologies and pay only for the services we receive, a key component of the cloud model. Our solution meets all state and federal security requirements and all GTA standards, which means state agencies no longer need to solution infrastructure requirements for their business applications.
Although the full application of cloud computing in the public sector is still unknown, governments are beginning to take notice of its benefits from both operational and financial perspectives. As an indication of cloud computing’s potential significance, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) set out to define its essential characteristics, service and deployment models, and benefits. Having already mentioned two of its characteristics, let’s take a look at its benefits. As cited by NIST, cloud computing:
- eliminates upfront capital expenditures and dramatically reduces the administrative burden on IT resources,
- allows organizations to add and subtract capacity as their needs change and to pay only for what they use,
- provides reliable services, large storage and computing capacity, and 24/7 service,
- enables agency IT resources to focus on business-critical applications,
- means organizations are no longer faced with choosing between obsolete equipment and software and high upgrade costs; they are always using current technology.
If all of these also sound familiar, it’s because they are the same benefits of the state’s technology transformation that we’ve been citing for the past two years.
We’ll continue to follow developments around cloud computing and assess the benefits of moving to a private government cloud. We’ll also ensure that the enterprise IT standards we currently use apply to any future computing solution for the state, including one that’s based in the cloud.
If you’d like to know more about NIST’s work on cloud computing, you can visit its online Computer Security Resource Center.