Federal, state governments turn to cloud computing

September 26, 2014

In government, as in business, an increasingly information saturated world is forcing change for everyone. Governments know they cannot lag behind the rest of the country when it comes to technology, so they are embracing innovations and developments. Cloud computing is one arena that state governments are moving into as they improve their operations, cut costs, improve efficiency and encourage innovation.

Wyoming in the cloud
Wyoming has moved several state government functions into the cloud. Marketplace reported that the state's government, based in the capital Cheyenne, has moved into the Green House Data center to house its data, which is maintained by a private cloud provider. 

Wyoming Chief Information Officer Flint Waters said the move to better cloud services was necessary, noting the higher quality of the servers and the increased quality of service and protection. Waters is not convinced that keeping the data on-site is safer than in the cloud. He noted that both have their security flaws, but the high level of skill and professionalism from the provider make up for it.

"So it's more economical for us, but it's also far more bang for the buck," he said.

Feds interested in the cloud
Forbes reported the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives is an early mover among government agencies toward cloud computing services. Dr. Rick Holgate, CIO of the bureau, said he embraced the cloud for the agility and flexibility it gave the agency when serving its constituents. 

Holgate also said while progress toward the cloud among the federal government is being made, it is uneven. Every agency has its own needs and requirements when it comes to the way in which it stores and uses its data. Legal troubles can arise if the agencies are too hasty in their move. 

The idea of "Government as a Platform" has been a big part of the initiative to move to the cloud. Many areas of the federal government are interested in opening up the data they collect in order to let outside analysts take part in analyzing and innovating using the available data. One area where this has produced a great effect is in the sharing of GPS and weather information. 

The ease with which the cloud fosters storage and sharing can lead to meaningful partnerships between private companies and governments – spurring innovation in countless fields.