Over on Software Advice, I recently discussed the prevalence of Cloud-based solutions within the public sector. I spoke with Alan Webber, eGovernment and public-sector IT expert from Altimeter Group on the subject.
Alan has some really great thoughts. Namely, he expressed the opinion that while the public sector is still generally hesitant to move the Cloud, there are a number of benefits that government groups can realize in the Cloud:
- Decreased up-front investment with monthly subscription pricing (most important)
- Architecture that can fluctuate with the ebb and flow of changing organization sizes
- Increased accessibility thanks to web-browser access
The discussion got me thinking about how the Cloud can impact public-sector procurement. For Cloud-based solutions to be successful in government purchasing situations, I think software vendors can focus on two strategies:
- Public-sector specialization -- Public sector activities have much more regulatory checks than their private-sector counterparts. This, among other reasons, are why a “repackaged” private-sector application is not always a good fit for the public sector. I think vendors can successfully market their Cloud-based solutions to the public sector as long as they have specific public-sector functionality.
- Private Cloud deployment -- Webber believes--and I concur-- that the “private Cloud” will be developed further within the public sector than the private sector. Government organizations can enjoy the benefits of Cloud-computing along with increased control over network security and administration. The cost savings will be less drastic, however, but this may be a stepping-stone to reliance on vendors’ Clouds.
At the same time, I see two trends within the public sector increasing the prevalence of Cloud-based solutions:
- More P3s -- Public-private partnerships, or P3s, are increasing in importance at a drastic rate, according to public procurement expert Mary Scott Nabers. These partnerships will require new technology solutions, and many of these buyers will be strapped for cash. The only option for these groups may be the subscription-based Cloud solutions that lack little up-front investment.
- Acceptance of software buying groups -- A popular option for many public-sector groups strapped-for-cash is to partner with similar organizations to purchase software. For example, instead of individual schools adopting a solution, entire school districts can band together to select one Cloud-based application. This will be a popular option as groups at every level of the government will need technology solutions to augment worker numbers, but also don’t have the budget for a large IT purchase.
The complexity and variance within the public sector make it difficult to make a statement one way or another on what it will take for the government to move to the Cloud. I'm interested in real-world anecdotes. Is anyone seeing a shift to the cloud with public-sector purchasing? The opposite? Let me know, as I’d be interested in discussing it.