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Can One Trust Government as a Cloud Provider?

by Andrea Di Maio  |  February 14, 2012  |  3 Comments

A few days ago Oakland County in Michigan has joined the list of government organizations that have decided to provide cloud-based services to other agencies and jurisdictions. According to an article on Government Technology, Oakland County will join a

local government shared services partnership that will roll out across the nation with the help of the National Association of Counties (NACo). Oakland County will host useful applications, such as an online payment platform, that local governments will be able subscribe to and use

This implies that Oakland County will be

upgrading his technology to a more modern cloud platform and rolling out a set of applications — including online payments, a health and human services communication portal, Web publishing suite, services registration, food inspection and animal licensing applications — that […] will be useful to other jurisdictions

While I do not know the details of this partnership and despite how good the shared services record in the county might be, this raises questions about whether a government organization should be a provider of technology services to another.

While sharing solutions and aggregating buying power to be more effective in the market is a great idea, I remain skeptical about why a government entity should venture into the technology service provider space, unless its core business “is” to provide technology services.

In fact, how can one be sure that the provider county will guarantee the exact same service levels to all government clients? Should they run out of resources while dealing with peak requests, how likely is it that their workloads will have a higher priority than other clients’? It is very possible that these issues will be sorted out through the partnership above but, as a famous Italian politician used to say, “those who distrust commit a sin, but they are rarely wrong”.

Category: cloud  

Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
15 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies strategies, Web 2.0, open government, cloud computing, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Can One Trust Government as a Cloud Provider?

  1. John MacInnis says:

    It would seem that not all government entities are the same with respect to hardened security. ‘Government’ is perhapes too broad a label when talking hardened security in data center clouds.

  2. Alberto Aguilar says:

    In Spain, it is quite usual that Provincial Governments provide online services (web portals, e-government services…) on behalf of municipalities of their provinces with no resources to give that service. The Provincial Governments have the infrastructure (data centers, servers and so on) but also provide them with web applications, so they act as cloud providers for those municipalities. Normally an agreement is signed among them to establish different SLAs. At least, it is working quite well here in terms of savings, unified operations, provision of services, etc In contrast, the service is best-effort, they don’t offer a personalized service nor deal with different workloads depending on every client.

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