The rush to move infrastructure to the cloud began with the federal government’s pioneering push in 2011. At that time, the White House’s Cloud First Initiative proposed spending about 20 billion (of the 80 billion) dollars allocated for IT expenditures on cloud services. The benefits noted included efficiency in server utilization, improved productivity in application development, agility for increases and reductions in capacity, and innovation—tapping into private sector advancements, connecting to emerging technologies, and fostering entrepreneurial mindsets. Today, the White House’s new Cloud Smart Initiative aims to take things even further.
With federal government agencies taking to the cloud in record numbers, local government agencies have been following suit, moving away from on-premise data centers. The benefit for local government agencies mirrors those of the larger federal agencies: streamlining notoriously inefficient technology, which comprised many duplicative systems that were hard to manage, expensive to maintain, and created long workflow delays. A goal for any government agency looking at the cloud is fairly straightforward: cut the waste, and enable employees to deliver constituent services faster.
State and Local Governments Venture into the Cloud
Since the Cloud First initiative, and now with Cloud Smart, state and local governments have become equally interested in sharing in the success and benefits of the cloud and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to cut costs, and streamline IT functions across government. As many agencies begin to adopt cloud, the IaaS model is becoming a popular way for government IT managers to get out of the hardware business. The service allows them to outsource procurement, upgrades, and maintenance for servers, storage, and network equipment, freeing up IT teams for other projects.
In many instances, mandates require local agencies to employ cloud solutions. A recent International Data Corporation (IDC) survey reinforces that improved manageability, less maintenance, and lower cost of service are a few of the top reasons why agencies across the country are embracing cloud infrastructures.
Of course, cloud services are not just about how to operate IT under those ideal conditions, but also about providing added functionality and support for the information and services required for successful outcomes, says Adelaide O’Brien, Research Director for Government Digital Transformation Strategies at IDC Government. “Cloud is a critical enabler of digital transformation, O’Brien states. “[The cloud] must be accompanied by supportive leadership and agile and streamlined processes focused on agency constituents that allow secure multichannel access to information, services and benefits.”
In this way, innovative states such as Florida, Texas, Indiana, and Michigan have experienced success in taking the cloud to the next level.
The Benefits Realized
Do you ever wish your organization could focus more on services rather than infrastructure? O’Brien notes that several government agencies are finding that the cloud provides them with the ability to do just that, by repurposing their time to support the customers of their services.
Infrastructure cost savings also emerge as government cloud buyers choose IaaS for “a range of integrated physical and virtual infrastructure systems with pre-integrated, modular units of computing, storage, and networking that allow IT to add blocks of physical resources in an efficient, repeatable and scalable fashion,” O’Brien adds.
Cost benefits abound. Many government agencies have been able to realize significant savings by eliminating expensive third-party IT support, which is almost always provided by the cloud provider. If funding is a concern, some government executives obtain backing for their cloud systems based on the understanding that it will provide more secure transactions via identity and access management, and it will also be supported by providers with cybersecurity expertise.
CJIS Compliance for Cloud Usage
Cybersecurity is something that all local governments must consider when working with confidential and/or personal information in the cloud. In these cases, compliance to the guidelines in place from the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) division of the FBI must be closely adhered to. CJIS compliance can get very specific when it comes to the use of the cloud and cloud storage for government agencies managing private data (especially true for law enforcement agencies as laid out in CJIS Security Policy Section 5.10).
Because there is an abundance of cloud providers out there, local government agencies seeking the cloud’s benefits will want to find a provider that meets CJIS requirements. It is important to be wary of providers claiming they are “CJIS certified,” as no central certification or accreditation exists for CJIS. A good rule of thumb is to find a provider that has services available for purchase through a General Services Administration (GSA) contract. The GSA was established in 1949 and helps support the basic functions of federal agencies.
By working with cloud providers that meet CJIS requirements, and remaining on top of their ever-changing regulations, government agencies—particularly law enforcement organizations—can take advantage of the benefits and avoid negative consequences.
Security and CJIS Compliance on the G-Cloud
The cloud offers a whole new way for federal, and now local government agencies to maintain valuable files—whether documents, multimedia, or images (for facial recognition or finger printing)—while remaining CJIS compliant, and following the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) guidelines. DSM works with state and local organizations and can help you make a seamless move to the cloud. Our G-Cloud is the first—and only—Florida-based virtual private cloud solution designed for national, state, regional, and local government agencies. We ensure strict security protocols, 99.99%+ uptime, and a complete compliance package; meeting the requirements of CJIS, HIPAA, PCI, SOC, and SSAE16. Contact DSM today to learn more about our G-Cloud—now available through the GSA contract.