Embracing the Cloud

As agencies continue to increase the number of technologies and applications they use for cost containment and improved efficiency and services, the burden on IT Departments also typically increases. Creating and maintaining an infrastructure to support this rapid increase can be costly and time consuming, which is why more and more government agencies are looking to the Cloud.

While there are many opportunities and advantages in embracing the cloud, we are going to look at three key benefits realized and lesson learned along the way:

1.  Uptime.  Employing individuals who can work or be on call, around the clock, 365 days a year, can be difficult and costly. AWS promises a 99.95% uptime of their hosting services. As discussed in the article Bringing the Cloud to your Community  "AWS's extensive infrastructure provides a high level of resiliency and availability."

This coupled with RTVision's update processes, which applies updates within minutes during the late night when access is at it's lowest, allows applications to always be up to date with new features and bug fixes.  In addition applications are accessible to users any time of the day, and any day of the week.

2.  Flexibility.  The Cloud's ability to scale allows agencies of any size to take advantage of established networks and infrastructure. Through AWS, resources can easily be scaled and data redundancy is provided. Cost savings are realized by removing the need to build and maintain an extensive infrastructure, allowing agencies to be more agile and react quickly to changing needs. Redundancy is built in to ensure that data is not lost or mismanaged.

Additionally, RTVision sends nightly backup data to a SSAE 16 secure facility for additional data retention in a separate regional zone. Customers can access data through monthly (or more frequent) database downloads.

3.  Security.  Without needing SME's for network, security and more, agencies can quickly and easily deploy secure applications in the Cloud. The need for monitoring and promptly applying security updates has increased in recent years.  Rather than hiring consultants or personnel who focus solely on securing networks, look to the Cloud to provide best practices.

From Bringing the Cloud to your Community they note, "The fear and negative perceptions surrounding the cloud have gradually shifted. “We have fewer conversations about security because, by and large, the population now understands that security in the cloud isn’t scary or non-existent."

 

Moving to the Cloud can be a big transition for agencies.  What can be done to make sure that the agency gets the most out of their investments and maximizes the benefits?  In Agencies Eye the Benefits of Cloud Beyond Cost Savings, the article examines some additional benefits of the Cloud, as well as some lessons learned for agencies transitioning to Cloud services.  In summary, expect and accept change, retraining is necessary, and encourage advocates.

Expect and Accept Change:  Be open to changing current processes.  As stated in the article,  "keep in mind that processes must change in the cloud if you’re going to take advantage of the benefits."

Retraining is necessary:  Systems change and so do the skills and knowledge base necessary to manage systems.  Invest in training so that individuals can effectively monitor and oversee cloud infrastructure services.

Encourage Advocates:  The speed of technology requires a greater level of agility than ever before.  Having a department or agency advocate who is responsible for reviewing inefficient processes and delivering new models and services to improve processes will help expedite adoption.

 

Melissa Girtz