Monday, May 7, 2012

Cloud-Based Collaboration Services in Asia-Pacific Gov

Government agencies are reportedly one of the primary benefactors of managed cloud services. According to the results from a recent market study by IDC, IT decision-makers across the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan) found that 59 percent of public sector respondents are confident in the ability of their internal IT departments to deploy private cloud environments.

However, IDC Government Insights cautions that high levels of private cloud adoption may not bode well for a collaborative and citizen-engaging government and preemptive measures should be taken for collaboration to take place across organizational boundaries. More insights can be found in the IDC report entitled, "Cloud Computing for Government: a View from Asia-Pacific."

Frank Levering, Research Manager for IDC said, "An efficient and productive internal IT department is definitely a good to have in any organization, private or public. However, a department that is highly confident in running its own private cloud environment may run the risk of not reaching out to other internal departments to collaborate on cloud opportunities."

To counter this possibility, IDC recommends that whenever possible, governments should consider cloud-based collaboration services rather than independent private cloud solutions.

Although governments will initially be seeking cloud-based solutions to deliver cost advantages and better manage resources, eventually, cloud implementations need to be about inter-department collaborations and citizen relationship management in order to reap the full benefits of its capabilities to deliver optimal citizen services.

This is particularly important for key initiatives like data classification for security purposes; if agencies do not align their security levels, it would prove to be a massive obstacle for future joint efforts.

A positive sign is that governments across the region are growing to recognize the need for collaboration within the cloud space. There is already a significant installed base of collaborative applications in the cloud and the numbers will grow significantly in the next 12 months.


To optimize the benefits of cloud services, IDC offers recommendations to governments:
  • Evaluate all aspects of cloud computing. Read everything you can get your hands on. Most suppliers will have recognized that the key to their long-term success is their short-term role as an educator. Since security is a big concern, develop security profiles for all suppliers being considered.
  • Service-oriented architecture (SOA) first, then cloud. The right SOA needs to be in place to facilitate a smooth connection to external cloud services. Government agencies needing to build a robust SOA require a plan that tackles the transition in bite-size pieces while solidifying long-term migration to the shared services architecture. Remove the key barriers to cloud computing.
  • Challenges like security concerns and decentralized data storage will be blocking issues until they are acknowledged and appropriately addressed. Many of the more complex scenarios, like customer/citizen relationship management and inter-department collaboration will depend on a government's ability to get the basics right.
  • Know your current environment. An inventory of the current environment should provide a good indication of whether systems contain sensitive data, including taxpayers' personally identifiable information and/or mission-critical data and (legacy) applications. This will provide an excellent start to planning for cloud services adoption.

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