GovBytes: Is Cloud Computing The LeBron James of Technology?

According to Steve Towns at Government Technology,”cloud computing” is among the developments that have received the most attention in government in recent memory. It is, one might say, the LeBron James of government technology… lots of hype, but no championships… yet

Cloud Computing Meets Reality

It’s hard to think of a technology that’s received more hype over the past few years than cloud computing. Vendors have tripped over one another in a rush to unveil new offerings and reposition existing services as cloud-based solutions. CIOs and other public officials have made high-profile announcements of large-scale cloud deployments.

As Towns’s colleague Merrill Douglas pointed out last week, the migration to the cloud is not without its complications. To stick with the analogy you can’t just simply “take your talents” to the cloud and automatically expect it to start winning championships.

Los Angeles, Minnesota Discuss Migrating to Cloud Computing

When Los Angeles switched from a software-based e-mail platform to Gmail in 2009, for example, it encountered security concerns.

“Certainly going first was difficult, just because there were no real models to look at,” Levin said. Google and the city had to work out issues such as what data to move to the new platform and how to accomplish that transfer, she said.

Also important was figuring out how to ensure that the city’s data would stay private and secure. In fact, that’s the reason the LAPD has not yet migrated to Gmail.

Don’t get me wrong, the cloud is awesome and could be a complete game changer for your team just like a great player like James is, but hype doesn’t equal the hard work needed to get the W’s. The point is, no one player has ever won or lost a game. And no one technology is enough to make or break an agency. When trying to decide whether or not to make the switch, be sure to take into account how well-suited cloud computing is for your team and what it will take to complete the migration successfully.

What do you feel is the #1 thing to consider before making a big investment in technology?

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Andrew Krzmarzick

I’m thinking the same 3 parameters apply: cost, time and quality. If I had to guess, most government organizations are using cost as their primary factor…then time to launch…and as a distant third, quality. But going cheap in the near term leads to greater costs down the road…so I think there’s always a best value option somewhere in the mix.

Dan Israel

Interesting analogy, Stephanie. I would offer value as the #1 thing — it has the benefit of combining Andrew’s choices of quality and cost. While the old adage that you get what you pay for often holds true, if you find a reliable cloud vendor with well-tested products — who can at the same time cut your costs and reduce the headaches of an on-premise system — well, that’s great value.

As for cloud champions in government, how about the City of Orlando — who made the move to the cloud nearly 18 months ago. They’ve gotten a host of new capabilities for city employees while saving considerable $. That’s great value, in my book.

More on Orlando here:

Shannon Donelson

Great post Stephanie! Love the analogy and it really does ring true! We really do have to stop and think, are we in this for the technology and benefits, or the hype?

Christopher Whitaker

– insert obligatory snarky comment about LeBron getting smoked by the Chicago Bull’s Bench Mob here –

I think this post is spot on though. The technology is a tool – if the whole team lacks the fundamentals then no tech/superstar will save them.

Kacey Carpenter

Shift to cloud is a major change in technology landscape for at least the next 5 to 10 years with easier access, ondemand, and less complexity but for government need to consider requirements for security, availability and performance. Private and hybrid clouds provide the benefits but with more control.

Some additional discussion at