What is a cloud service, anyway?


What is a cloud service, anyway?

The demand to move to the cloud by government leadership has been loud. Government agencies are scrambling to comply and find ways to implement cloud into their infrastructure. However, the definition of cloud is quite up in the air.

Defining cloud services

   IDC recently gathered several experts and defined “cloud services” and “cloud computing” separately:

  • Cloud Services= Consumer and Business products, services and solutions that are delivered and consumed in real-time over the Internet.
  • Cloud Computing= an emerging IT development, deployment and delivery model, enabling real-time delivery of products, services and solutions over the Internet (i.e., enabling cloud services).

What is consistent between the two is that they define cloud as being delivered over the IntErnet. But SwishData believes cloud can be delivered via an IntrAnet as well (as long as the service has an interface like the Internet version would have and is charged back to the departments that use the service). 

Can you stay within the agency for cloud services?

A true example of a cloud service on an intranet could be an internal SharePoint service stood up by the IT department, with an interface for each department to log in, administer creation and management of their own departments SharePoint usage. That usage is tracked and charged back to the departments respectively. What this effectively does is make the IT department a business unit, rather than a cost center.

This change to a business unit means that the IT department has to charge enough for the service it offers to cover the cost of implementing and maintaining it. The huge implication of this change is that IT departments now compete against external cloud services and, if those internal services cost more, a business case for staying inside the organization must be made. This is how companies and particularly government agencies save money in the long run. But this only works if each individual department has the freedom to make a case for going to external providers for the services it needs.

It has to be recognized that external services also have additional costs and risks that must be considered.Those include: additional bandwidth, security design, security monitoring, and contract canceling costs (both financial and data reclaiming costs). The most common risk is the physical security of your data being housed outside of your organization and probably on shared infrastructure with other customers. This risk has to be assessed individually by each organization. Once the value of that risk is established, a true comparison between internal and external clouds can be made.

In your experience, what other costs and risks is your government agency considering for evaluation?  What kind of values is your government agency putting on the physical security of the data? We want your input! Just leave a comment below, on Facebook or on Twitter. Let SwishData know how we can help your organization design a solution, assess costs and successfully begin to further or complete your move to the cloud. Learn more about your cloud solution options here

Image courtesy Flickr user karindalziel.

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