Public-Sector Cloud Computing: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

When the second-in-command of one of the most technologically advanced states in the country slams public-sector computing -- publicly -- it's a resounding wake-up call.

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IDC's Rubel says that the most forward-thinking agencies are now taking the cloud beyond its most basic capabilities. "They can make reporting easier when cities and counties are getting funds from the state. They can simplify business processes. That's a game-changer because they can make a difference [in efficiency] over the long run," he says.

The cloud can also bring government agencies hiring and staffing flexibility. Massachusetts CIO Letchford worries about two competing trends: More new IT jobs are being created, but 40% of the current IT workforce will be retiring within 20 years. "I'm going to be desperate to find people to hire. I'm going to have people leaving, and it'll be hard to encourage people to work here at state salaries," he says. The answer: offload day-to-day activities to cloud service providers and attract talented IT professionals by offering them the opportunity to work on strategic, innovative initiatives.

That's what Ohio's Stu Davis wants for his IT staff. "If we could concentrate them at the top and leverage their expertise for the enterprise, that's better than having them in different agencies," he says. "It focuses IT skills on the enablement of the business of the state of Ohio." No agency needs its own infrastructure, and besides, the state doesn't have the human or financial resources to support that type of setup anymore. "There has to be a different way," Davis says. "The status quo of the siloed approach can't continue."

Silicon Valley-based freelancer Howard Baldwin writes about networking and mobile technology, among other enterprise-related issues.

This story, "Public-Sector Cloud Computing: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" was originally published by Computerworld.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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