Cloud computing is nothing new. It gives organizations access to servers, storage, databases and applications via the internet rather than through localized data centers. But while the private sector has been reaping the benefits of cloud computing for a quite some time, government entities have been slower to make the shift. But as more and more agencies consider transitioning the cloud, it’s important to explore the pros and cons to ensure you’re making the right move.
On-premises hardware is expensive. The cost of storage, servers and software can add up, in addition to the expense of maintaining, managing, monitoring and patching your data. There are cooling costs and lease or rental fees if your equipment is being housed offsite. You also need to ensure your systems are up-to-date and should plan to refresh all your equipment every three years. This process is not only time consuming, but also pricey. When agencies make the move to the cloud, those expenses are taken on by the cloud provider, saving you money in the long run.
Cloud providers can offer organizations more capacity on-demand, meaning you can change the amount of data and information you need to store based on growth or season, without much downtime or interruption to your day-to-day operations. For government organizations housing their own data center, the only option to increase bandwidth and storage is to likely buy a new server. And if your data needs are cyclical, you could end up with an abundance of unused space and wasted money.
Moving to the cloud offers a level of freedom and flexibility for employees who are remote or working onsite from another location. And because of COVID, flexible work solutions are more important now than ever before. Using the cloud, all your employees need is a device and an internet access, and they’re able to work from any location across the globe.
When an organization decides to move its data to the cloud, it’s a permanent shift. Right? Well, not necessarily. Over the past decade there has been a major rush to shift to cloud applications and government agencies are no exception. Today’s government is becoming more modern and efficient. However, many organizations haven’t thought about the possibility of reversing their cloud migration back to an on-premises data center if needed. In 2020, there was a growing trend to move back to on-premises solutions because of cost, speed and security considerations. But the process of moving your information back can be very complicated, expensive and time consuming. Therefore it’s critical to ensure moving to the cloud is right for your organization, from the start.
The security of the cloud versus an on-premises data center has been an ongoing debate. When moving to the cloud, data security is the responsibility of both the organization and the cloud vendor. Cloud security is heavily automated, which means there are very few IT professionals involved in keeping your data secure. When it comes to government agencies, trusting a third-party with highly sensitive and confidential data can pose a risk. With on-premises, data is housed in a secure facility, only accessible through some type of checkpoint. Access is restricted to select employees within your organization or agency and can be configured specifically to fit your needs. Full on-premises security includes both physical and network security measures, allowing government agencies to stay within strict compliance standards.
Simply put, latency is the delay between a request and a cloud service provider’s response. Latency issues can affect the speed and the overall experience of using a device. For example, when you hit enter on your keywork, there is always some delay for the information to come back to you. When using an on-premises data center, that information needs to travel far less distance than it does from a cloud service provider. For government agencies and branches of the military, speed is essential and could, at times, even be a matter of life and death. There might be people on the ground in situation rooms monitoring critical situations who need immediate information to make an instant decision.
All organizations are trying to save money and become more efficient, and the government is no exception. But there are many things you should consider based on your organization or agency’s specific needs before moving your data to the cloud. The cloud offers organizations a chance to offload the costs of housing a data center, in addition to the hassles that come with IT management. However, security and latency issues associated with having critical data in the cloud could be far more challenging. The best thing you can do is to fully consider your options and take the time to make an educated, informed decision.