Today, technology is a critical component to transform and modernize government to truly create a 21st century government. For our year-end report, the GovLoop team set out to explore what technology trends shaped 2012 to help agencies meet organizational goals. The report also includes best practices, case studies, and identifies which trends will shape government technology in 2013. This post will highlight one of those core trends, cloud computing.
The report below includes a survey from 250 members of the GovLoop community, and interviews with Bernie Mauzer, Chief Information Officer, Department of the Interior, Jim Ropelewski, Chief Procurement Officer, Department of Education, Linda Cureton, Chief Information Officer, NASA and Malcolm Jackson, Chief Information Officer, Environmental Protection Agency. Be sure to check out the entire report below and related resources on the guide landing page.
Linda Cureton, NASA CIO in a recent DorobekINSIDER interview states, “With cloud we are able to take advantage of flexible, scalable, elasticity of the cloud is nothing to sneeze about. As commercial providers make that secure and affordable and easy to provision that puts it within very accessible reach for agencies. Security concerns in the cloud are more emotional than real at this point.”
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Cloud technology has certainly made waves this year in the government IT space. Whether it is for improved collaboration, cost savings, facilitating open data initiatives, or mobility, the cloud has certainly made an enormous impact for government employees, and continues to transform how government operates. Ajay Budhraja, CTO at a US Government Agency, described on GovLoop the impact cloud computing is having in government:
“Cloud has dramatically changed how we think about and utilize services. Cloud facilitates rapid deployments due to quick availability of scalable services. It provides the high service velocity to manage changes incrementally and less time for provisioning storage and applications. Cloud can enhance productivity by providing the infrastructure or application platforms and related tools to respond to customer needs faster, giving organizations an edge over others that have not assessed such mechanisms. In addition, the on-demand capabilities can lead to efficient utilization of resources. I have seen applications that traditionally would take months to deploy, being rolled out in several weeks due to the Cloud and new environments being set up very quickly, the key is to carefully assess existing capabilities and focus on service and process integration.”
Three core challenges for the cloud continue to be information management, data privacy, and interoperability as more business functions migrate to the cloud. The cloud also relates to governments ability to recruit and retain talent, as the entering workforce expects cloud technology to be the norm for improved collaboration and efficiency. Further, training employees on how to use cloud technology to best improve internal efficiency and performance is critical for the success of government cloud initiatives.
One great example of cloud technology comes from NASA. According to Linda Cureton, NASA CIO, NASA has used the cloud to help connect with citizens through the “Be a Martian” initiative. This is initiative is being run by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the laboratory loaded 250,000 pictures of Mars into a cloud platform, and shared the images with the public. “This “Be a Martian” initiative has been very popular, serving over 2.5 million data queries from crowd-sourcing applications and proving that the cloud can be a terrific way to reach and engage the public and support STEM activities in our schools,” Linda acknowledged.
By starting with a small pilot, NASA has been able to take this quick win and expand the scope to dozens of fascinating cloud projects that deeply serve the mission. For example, NASA has entered into a strategic partnership with USAID to deploy a geospatial information technology infrastructure called SERVIR. “SERVIR integrates satellite and ground-based data with forecast models to monitor environmental changes and improve world-wide response to natural disasters,” stated Linda.
As new technology enters the government IT space, it is essential for agency leads to acknowledge how technology changes the function of the CIO’s role, and what the true business value is for the agency. Cloud has a great business case as it allows CIOs to move from focusing on commodity IT to focus on delivering deeper mission value.
Malcolm Jackson, CIO of the EPA, recently spoke with Chris Dorobek on GovLoop’s Daily Podcast regarding cloud technology in government. Malcolm stated, “[Cloud] does change our job…We don’t have to worry about commodity IT services, that part of it we can allow a vendor to provide those services, as a CIO, that enables us to shift our focus on other types of more mission critical areas.”
In 2013, cloud computing will continue to shape the government IT landscape. Cloud computing, in tandem with other technologies like mobile devices, is a game-changer for government. The promise of cutting cost and working through fiscal austerity is appealing to all in government. The cloud is part of the solution, leveraging cloud technology can help agencies cut cost, increase productivity and assist in cross-agency collaboration. We are living in a fascinating time for government innovation. The ability to connect individuals, resources and information is unlike any other time in history. In many ways, cloud technology is at the heart of this transformation.
The GovLoop Guide: Government Technology Year in Review
|Agile Government||Cloud Technology||Turning Data into Power||Expansion of Mobility||Social Government|
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