IDC research manager for Asia/Pacific, Frank Levering, says that 'an efficient and productive internal IT department is definitely a good to have in any organization, private or public.' However, according to Levering, a department that is 'highly confident in running its own private cloud environment may run the risk of not reaching out to other internal departments to collaborate on cloud opportunities."
To counter this possibility, IDC recommends that whenever possible, governments should consider cloud-based collaboration services rather than independent private cloud solutions.
Levering suggests that, although governments will initially be seeking cloud-based solutions to deliver cost advantages and better manage resources, eventually, cloud implementations need to be about 'inter-department collaborations and citizen relationship management in order to reap the full benefits of its capabilities to deliver optimal citizen services.' 'This is particularly important for key initiatives like data classification for security purposes; if agencies do not align their security levels, it would prove to be a massive obstacle for future joint efforts,' Levering cautions.
However, IDC observes that a positive sign is that governments across the region are growing to recognise the need for collaboration within the cloud space, and that there is already a significant installed base of collaborative applications in the cloud and the numbers will grow significantly in the next 12 months.
To optimise the benefits of cloud services in the public sector, IDC Government Insights makes a number of recommendations to governments, including:
'¢ Evaluate all aspects of cloud computing. Read everything you can get your hands on. Most suppliers will have recognised that the key to their long-term success is their short-term role as an educator. Since security is a big concern, develop security profiles for all suppliers being considered
'¢ Service-oriented architecture (SOA) first, then cloud. The right SOA needs to be in place to facilitate a smooth connection to external cloud services. Government agencies needing to build a robust SOA require a plan that tackles the transition in bite-size pieces while solidifying long-term migration to the shared services architecture. Remove the key barriers to cloud computing. Challenges like security concerns and decentralised data storage will be blocking issues until they are acknowledged and appropriately addressed. Many of the more complex scenarios, like customer/citizen relationship management and inter-department collaboration will depend on a government's ability to get the basics right
'¢ Know your current environment. An inventory of the current environment should provide a good indication of whether systems contain sensitive data, including taxpayers' personally identifiable information and/or mission-critical data and (legacy) applications. This will provide an excellent start to planning for cloud