TechAmerica Foundation: Governments need to get into the cloud

The cloud is being pitched as the best way to do more with less, but government agencies are slow to modernize, California official stresses

Cloud computing presents opportunities for governments to modernize and improve cost efficiency, public officials stressed Thursday at the introduction of a report advising state and local governments on cloud adoption. But one California official cited government tendencies making the modernization process a slow one.

The TechAmerica Foundation's State and Local Government Cloud Commission released its report entitled "The Cloud Imperative," offering best practices for cloud computing for state and local governments. In an introduction of the report at Microsoft's Silicon Valley offices in Mountain View, Calif., government officials including California lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom and San Jose mayor Chuck Reed emphasized potential benefits of cloud computing.

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"San Jose's approach is very simple. We're trying to do more with less," Reed said in explaining San Jose's perspective on the cloud. Newsom, however, stressed how governments need to wake up to technological change. "You're seeing with this rapid and extraordinary change with the cloud in the private sector how it is dramatically changing the way people are doing business," bringing down costs and boosting collaboration, he said. "But government has been slow to pick up on this."

The state of California has been adopting cloud technology in several applications, both in public and private clouds, said Carlos Ramos, secretary of the state's technology agency: "We've done a big migration in the state from traditional telephony to cloud-based VoIP technology." Pressure on budgets forces departments to start looking at cloud infrastructure, Ramos said.

The TechAmerica report, which is intended to be a partial initial step in the agency's efforts to promote cloud computing for governments, offers such recommendations as making selection of the right deployment and service models a primary consideration. The report also advises that authentication must be managed across all cloud environments and that cloud providers should be encouraged to limit use of proprietary tools and storage platforms. The commission also unveiled a portal, at, to share practices and trends in cloud computing.

The report proposes a four-stage management structure for transitioning to cloud computing:

  • Create a multiphase strategy for cloud adoption and deployment
  • Build an inventory of applications to be moved to the cloud
  • Analyze process and financial impacts, gaps, and inefficiencies
  • Determine how cloud computing will impact existing technical operations and architecture considerations

To procure cloud solutions, the report recommends that states create an RFP/contract vehicle for cloud services. If a non-cloud-specific procurement mechanism is used, terms and conditions should be made specific to cloud services. Also, governments should require specific terms for data portability, records management, security and privacy, and SLAs.

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