When and Why Private Cloud Works for Government Organizations

April 29, 2019

While businesses in the private sector have long raced ahead in implementing Cloud solutions, public organizations, as is the norm, tend to move more slowly in IT adoption. When it comes to Cloud, however, that has begun to change. Government agencies, driven by constituent demands and an increased drive for faster IT implementation as well as transparency, are moving more heavily towards cloud-based solutions. Despite the rising popularity of hyperscale providers, there are many reasons private cloud, in particular, is well-suited to government needs.

Gartner expects that “Governments will implement private Cloud at twice the rate of public cloud through 2021,” though analysts have voiced concern over their reasons for doing so

Private Cloud Offers Privacy and Control

We can’t discuss private cloud for local governments without addressing the primary benefit: control. Control over their hosting infrastructure is vital in addressing a number of needs that the local government has:

  • Simplifying Data Privacy: While the security levels of public clouds are consistently improving, they still fall short in providing the type of control needed by government agencies. As public hyper-scale clouds are globally distributed networks, this brings a level of complexity for IT teams to contend with – specifically, questions around where the data is physically being stored, which municipalities and regulations are brought into the equation, and how that changes the work processes for accessing and using those systems. Because government employees maintain and configure the dedicated infrastructure to their expectations, private Cloud allows remote access without entering legal and government regulations into the mix.
  • Agency Collaboration: Governments frequently require collaboration with other public agencies, such as law enforcement and schools, and need a means of sharing that data without compromising sensitive information. Dedicated private infrastructure means each local agency has control over what pieces of data are being shared and with whom, allowing for necessary collaboration with complete control over what’s being shared (and more importantly, what isn’t).

Cost – Private Cloud Provides Stable and Predictable Pricing

A similarly primary concern for government organizations, particularly those at the local level, is working under tightly constrained budgets to meet citizen demands for innovation in their public government. Initiatives such as Open Data portals and a desire for increased transparency with public data drives a need for cloud computing, but public agencies do not have the same resources seen in the private sector. Considering that local governments are typically working with legacy applications and static workloads, this positions the private cloud as a viable option to serve the need for IT innovation without launching into a hyper-scale cloud solution and the associated costs. Private solutions also provide a strong degree of stability – with fixed hosting fees from month-to-month. This is a strong benefit for public agencies who require predictability in their budget – something that can be difficult to achieve with the multi-tiered pricing levels and various changes that are found with hyperscale solutions.

IT Capability – What Features Are Actually Being Used?

When comparing private and public cloud use in the government context, it’s also crucial to note the IT needs of public agencies as compared to private businesses. As mentioned above, public agencies deal majorly with static workloads, legacy applications, as well as strict mandates for security and compliance. This is a stark contrast to the scalability and functional needs that private sector companies generally seek out from hyperscale cloud providers.

While Gartner notes that hyperscale providers are continually investing in their ability to deliver more updates at a faster pace, this can tend to be a non-starter for government agencies, who are rarely making rapid updates or changes to their IT environments. Furthermore, IT teams in local governments don’t have access to the vast resources required to train, update, and implement many of the features that a public cloud invests in. Implementing a public cloud solution in these instances often sees many of their features being left unused, even though those updates make much of the cost of a public cloud contract. Given these constraints, a private cloud solution can provide the IT innovation sought by governments and their constituents, without the added complexity of a public hyperscale provider. While the continuous updates provide undeniable value to those in dynamic and constantly changing environments, these features are often simply inapplicable to government use cases.

For a real-world look at how private cloud and services can help bring value to government agencies, take a look at the below case study of a County Government.

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