From strengthening data security to streamlining operations, more and more local governments are discovering the benefits of utilizing cloud services.
From the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to the Department of Defense, government agencies are getting away from old-school systems and migrating operations to the cloud. For local governments, there are numerous benefits to utilizing cloud services, which can help streamline operations, drive down expenses, better protect data, and strengthen business continuity and disaster recovery.
A cloud-based solution such as Software-as-a-Service (online applications, such as Google Docs), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (virtualized hardware infrastructure, like storage and servers), or Platform-as-a-Service (hardware infrastructure and software), can provide local governments with the tools they need to operate more efficiently.
Here are some of the biggest benefits of moving to the cloud:
A breach has the potential to expose sensitive information to bad actors, or even put operations at a standstill. Cyberattacks such as ransomware are increasingly aimed at “soft targets” like local governments, labeled as such because their often-antiquated systems make them particularly vulnerable to cybercriminals.
For many local governments, attempting to match the strength of security measures and data protection offered by cloud storage and computing services in on-premises systems can be prohibitively expensive and labor-intensive, largely because of the economy of scale. Meanwhile, agencies that utilize the public cloud for land and vital records systems benefit from the huge investments cloud providers make in security and infrastructure protection.
Some government agencies utilize private cloud services – which are dedicated to a single organization – in lieu of public cloud offerings for even greater security and control. Another popular option is a hybrid model that uses some combination of private cloud services, public cloud services, and local systems, depending on an organization’s needs.
Increased Collaboration and Efficiency
Some cloud services enable employees to access and work on projects from anywhere on any device, as well as simplify collaborations among workers and between government agencies. This increased efficiency can take several forms: documents are more easily shared, information silos and redundant documents are reduced, and transitions to remote work are accomplished more quickly.
SaaS cloud solutions can make local government tasks such as business licensing, which often requires the involvement of multiple departments in the approval process, much easier compared to more rudimentary methods like email.
Scalability and Cost Savings
Running on-premises infrastructure is costly, particularly in today’s environment where virtually everything – from document archives to services like tax filing – is going digital. Cloud computing enables local governments to be more operationally agile in response to often dynamic shifts in computing capacity needs – such as requests for service from members of the community – as well as data storage requirements.
True native cloud-based systems deliver automated business continuity which, in turn, reduces the need for disaster recovery planning. At the same time, local governments can offer mobile offices for constituent outreach or remote employee access without the costly infrastructure setup.
With on-premise infrastructure, scaling up or down in storage and computing capacity is slow and expensive. Cloud computing enables local governments to scale up and down in real time, potentially resulting in significant cost savings.
Improved Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Cloud computing and storage services can significantly aid local governments in business continuity and disaster recovery. Redundancy is one of the most vital elements to protecting data and eliminating downtime from outages or cyberattacks – housing data and running critical digital infrastructure like servers locally without any off-site redundancy is a recipe for disaster.
Modern governments need modern solutions to meet today’s challenges. Cloud-based services can help protect sensitive information, simplify projects and collaborations, ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster, and save money. From public records management to business licensing and tax filing, cloud-based solutions enable local governments to work more efficiently, boost transparency, and better connect with residents.
The author, Steve Russell, is Chief Technology Officer at GovOS.