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Why Cloud First Is a Win-Win for the Public and Government

If human behavior is any indicator, the cloud has won over the public. While Gen Z has spent their entire lives online, the rest of us remember what daily life was like before and after the cloud — and we won’t go back. We’ll opt for the cloud first for anything that makes our lives easier.

Perhaps nowhere is cloud first more relevant than in the government space. As a pandemic has shown, technology is a game-changer. State and local agencies that moved services online put to bed the tired stereotypes of slow, bureaucratic government.

Russell Gainford, an expert in government cloud strategy, recently shared his thoughts on the benefits of cloud adoption for both the public and government agencies.

Cloud in Everyday Life

If you are old enough to remember, some of the slowest, most bureaucratic services in the world existed not in the public sector, but in the private sector.

Renting a movie meant a trip to the local video store, hoping what you wanted was in stock, and hoping you remembered to bring your video membership card.

Today? With a broadband connection, you’ll be watching a movie with a few clicks. Forget transportation, forget stock keeping, forget the physical store. The cloud makes it possible to scale the delivery of digital content to meet consumer demand anywhere, anytime without yesteryear’s massive physical infrastructure.

Now, services made possible by the cloud are everywhere in everyday life. No hotel where you’re going? Try Airbnb. No taxi? Use Uber. No clothing store? Well, you get the idea.

“The cloud has become a transformational shift in the way we operate and the way that we are as human beings,” said Gainford.

Win-Win Innovations

“Moving into the cloud is providing a lot more citizen services that didn’t exist before,” Gainford said. “COVID certainly changed the mindset of the market, and it did because … there was never the drive of change to make it happen so quickly.”

The wins made possible by the cloud are benefiting agencies as much as the public. Here are four areas where innovations are happening:

1. Digital Speed

With software-as-a-service (SaaS), there is no lengthy installation of on-premises software in data centers. For example, many courts got way behind in their cases when COVID-19 hit. The municipalities that turned to virtual court solutions were up and running in a couple of days and burned through their case backlogs.

2. Anywhere Flexibility

Court appearances that would typically be in person can now be done with video conferencing options in the cloud. Gainford notes that video conferencing particularly helps people that live many, many miles away, or have childcare or eldercare responsibilities that make appearing in person difficult. With virtual solutions, courts see their failure-to-appear rates drop significantly.

3. Open 24/7

“A really important topic is high availability and disaster recovery,” notes Gainford. Cloud systems run between multiple data centers simultaneously, and if one goes down, services immediately go to another. The high availability means certain services can now be open 24/7. “It’s providing their constituents and their staff a level of service they’ve never seen before, and they’re getting it basically built into the cost of managing a cloud environment.”

4. Security

Finally, cybersecurity is a big struggle for agencies that manage their own on-premises data centers. In the cloud, there are world-class cybersecurity leaders maintaining the network environments. “It’s a huge benefit to think about,” said Gainford. “What is the cost and the risk of not going versus the benefits that you get when you’re in that type of secure and compliant environment?” That question and others are key for agencies to think about as they consider moving to the cloud.

Steve Goll is the editorial content manager at Tyler Technologies, Inc. In his role, he shares stories of government leaders finding solutions to challenges across a range of disciplines. During his 15 years of government experience, he worked at the state level in economic development and higher education, at the local level in K-12 education, and at the county/regional level as a workforce development council member.

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