Last week I attended a conference call with a number of CIOs from various countries. The topic of discussion was government cloud and in particular what governments in developing countries cold learn from developed countries that are already in the process of implementing their own government cloud.
Irrespective of whether creating a government cloud is a good idea or not, there were some interesting observations made for those who wish to:
- Run it like a business. Creating a government cloud means to be more exposed to competition from the market. Therefore the mindset needs to be that of a service providers who hunts for clients and sets itself to be successful and profitable (even if cannot make profit or if profits go back into its clients’ budgets).
- Mandate the use of the government cloud. At least at an initial stage, when the government cloud is unlikely to be competitive against other cloud-based offerings, agencies should be warmly encouraged, if not mandated, to use it. Going forward, this mandate could be lifted.
- Consolidate at enterprise level. It is important to prevent different large agencies from creating their own private cloud (or community clouds, if they intend to offer services to others). In this respect, a data center consolidation strategy should either precede or explicitly complement a government cloud strategy.
Personally I do agree with the above but with a few caveats. In my view what is most important in creating a government cloud is to take a user-centric and not a provider-centric approach. Put yourself into your clients’ shoes and figure out what value they would get from which form of government cloud. Encouraging the use of existing assets makes sense, but not to the point of furthering inefficient IT operations. Taking a business view is fine, but not to the point of forgetting that government is about public value. Consolidating is fine, provided that the vision for the government cloud is that of an hybrid one, combining internal and external services in ways that maximize public value.