Although there are calls to embrace and adopt digital transformation in government institutions, this step still faces a few challenges. Some of the opposition could be due to the fear of losing data control. Cloud computing, though, negates this fear and has other benefits as well.
Overview of cloud computing
In simple terms, cloud computing delivers digital services over the internet. Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) facilitate delivery of these services via three models: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). IaaS offers virtual storage, while SaaS offers hosted applications and email software. On the other hand, PaaS offers database solutions and web hosting.
CSPs can provide the above cloud computing models in four different ways. These are Private, Public, Community, and Hybrid.
1. Private cloud
On this cloud service, the CSP provides services to a single organisation. It enables the consumer to build a custom platform suitable to its needs and is only accessible to a specific group of consumers. An example is a materials control platform in an organisation.
2. Public cloud
As the name denotes, this cloud service is available to everyone on a pay-as-you-go basis. Most online shopping platforms use this cloud.
3. Community cloud
Since most government agencies want to embrace technological efficiency, they seek assistance from cloud service providers. The CSPs offer a community cloud that is accessible within specific criteria. For example, tax returns sites and social security platforms.
4. Hybrid cloud
In this final cloud module, CSP gives services by utilising two or all three clouds. For example, a CSP can offer private cloud services to a consumer over a secure public cloud.
All the above modules are available for the public sector in Australia, and you can use them depending on your IT needs.
Governments’ challenges to adopting cloud computing
In spite of the possibility of benefiting from cloud computing, most governments are still reluctant to adopt it fully. Below are some of the challenges behind their reluctance.
1. Data sovereignty and security
Every government has to protect its citizens’ privacy. On the other hand, cloud services are on a third-party server and may be out of their direct control. Moreover, cloud services can be in a different jurisdiction and may operate on the laws of a foreign country. As such, this provides a challenge when a government is trying to safeguard the privacy of its citizens.
Additionally, data storage is in a different jurisdiction. Therefore, a government feels this can be a threat to its sovereignty. For example, can it lose data due to foreign party access? Once CSPs can address this concern, governments can request more cloud services.
This is the ability of the government to control access to its information. Since cloud services are accessible to other users, confidentiality can become an issue. Additionally, it can be a concern, especially when cyber-attacks are always a threat.
For this reason, a government may prefer traditional technology where it can control all access and know the location of its data.
3. Legal issues
When CSP offers cloud services, they can host the data in different locations. These locations can be under separate legal jurisdictions. Because of this, a CSP may be under a legal mandate to provide information in one location of a user residing in another location. As a result, a CSP can give out information without notice to the user.
Again, such a clash of laws makes governments reluctant to adopt cloud computing faster.
Naturally, concerns can arise when sharing information that is sensitive and private. The CSPs may assure a government of privacy and security. Yet uncertainty can occur due to a lack of complete control of access and use.
Until such a time that the governments develop trust in CSP host services, adopting cloud computing may take a while.
5. Cost of migration
Changing from traditional technology to cloud computing can require additional costs. For example, getting a suitable cloud model and expertise to make the changeover can be expensive. There’s also training of staff on the new technology.
Even if a government can afford to cover the costs, it may be challenging to execute it. This may be due to a lack of commitment to justify the costs and reasons for the transition.
Benefits of cloud computing for government customers
The cloud-computing sector is becoming more competitive. Thus, service providers improve on the reliability, power, and cost-effectiveness of the products they offer. In essence, as a cloud service consumer (CSC), a government can enjoy the advantages of choosing cloud computing over traditional technology. Below are some of the benefits of cloud computing for government customers.
1. Data backup and security
Cloud computing provides offsite data storage with multi-layer security protocols. Therefore, your data can be safe if there’s cyber-breach on your network. This isn’t the case with traditional technology, where a breach in your network can mean access to sensitive information within the network.
In addition, your data is backed-up off-premise to provide a restore point in case a cybersecurity breach destroys your premise network.
It’s important to note that information has extra protection due to the multi-layer protocols. These protocols can be two-factor authentication or biometric verification. This means that you can only gain entry into your platforms unless you share access codes.
2. Lower operational costs
The initial transition cost from traditional tech to cloud computing may pose a challenge. However, once cloud computing is fully effective, you can cut down on operation costs. For example, you can reduce the number of staff you require to monitor your network. Thus, this reduces recurrent expenses like salaries and benefits in a public sector setting.
Additionally, because you can get the service according to your current needs, you can tailor operational costs as per the service you require. Further, you don’t need to buy extra software or hardware to host the service you need. Also, there’re no repairs and maintenance as the service provider hosts the applications.
3. Flexibility and scalability
Sometimes, your service demands can increase or decrease depending on several factors. As such, you may need to expand or lessen your software needs to meet these demands. With cloud computing, governments can scale the services up or down as per their system demands. Similarly, cloud computing is flexible and can meet government IT needs in different sectors.
You don’t need to be on the premises to access information with cloud computing. All you need is an internet connection and a device that can access the internet. Most service providers currently offer software applications that you can access on mobiles phones. This means you can check on progress, communicate, and respond in real-time from wherever you are.
5. Increase in productivity and efficiency
Your organisation can deliver more when your clients and staff can access your platform from any location. With more efficiency comes more customer satisfaction and turnover.
As for the government, citizens can access its services from different locations at any time. This reduces the load on the physical offices; thus, staff can focus on improving productivity and efficiency. In the end, the delivery of government services to the public can be more effective.
As much as cloud computing is gaining popularity in the technology industry, governments can still be sceptical about adopting it. However, this reluctance to adopt cloud computing may reduce over time. This is because CSPs always increase the resources, security, reliability, and sophistication of the cloud services they provide.