As reported by Government Technology, the Public Technology Institute recently surveyed 93 local government IT executives to find out what they are doing and planning with cloud computing. Here are some of the highlights:
top three reasons for using or planning to use the cloud:
Resource savings (staff time, maintenance and support): 87%
Availability and uptime: 45%
While the cost element is certainly an important driver, there are many cases where speed is the driving factor, but this does not make the top three. Cloud computing allows to access to resources without going for competitive tendering: when I mention this in front of clients they smile and nod vigorously, but I guess they would not mention this in a survey.
top three applications that IT executives feel most comfortable moving to the cloud are:
Web hosting/content delivery: 75%
Collaboration applications: 72%
I fully agree with the first two being top of mind. On the other hand there is a fundamental difference between “feeling comfortable” and actually doing it. In spite of the cases of LA and Orlando, there is still a long way to go to rush to email as a cloud service. Also, what is exactly meant by “collaboration” here? Would an enterprise use of Twitter or LinkedIn count?
top three reasons for not using or planning for the cloud:
Cost/lack of business case: 64%
Waiting for other governments to take the lead, identify any issues and share their experience: 48%
The first one is symptomatic. At a high level everybody claims that the cloud is going to save loads of money. However, when the rubber hits the road and one needs specific requirements to rather inflexible terms and conditions from cloud vendors, the balance tilts toward prudence.
The third one is the usual “best practice” tune: let’s learn from those who did it already. But this rarely implies a thorough analysis of the specific conditions that led to a success: skills, commitment, political support, maturity, organizational culture.
So are we going to see local governments widely embracing cloud computing? Probably yes, if they remain under financial pressure, as they may have no other choice. Will they all realize the savings they hope for? Unlikely. Cloud computing cannot be considered as a “quick fix” but as one of the components of the IT and sourcing strategy.