States pursuing data center consolidation to cut costs

The federal government's efforts to move operations into the cloud are, by this point, fairly well established. Agency leaders realize that cloud integration can deliver superior performance while simultaneously cutting costs.

This trend is not limited to the federal government. As The Fiscal Times recently highlighted, state governments are increasingly following a similar trajectory, pursuing data center consolidation plans in order to enjoy major cost savings.

Cost drivers
While there are numerous performance benefits associated with cloud computing, the possibility of decreasing IT spending without sacrificing effectiveness is the primary driver of cloud adoption among states, the source reported. The Fiscal Times estimated that states can expect to reduce their computing costs by 25 to 50 percent by leveraging private sector cloud services.

The source pointed out that Delaware, one of the first states to embrace data center consolidation and cloud integration, pursued this technology specifically in order to save money. According to William Hickox, the state's acting chief information officer, this effort was successful. He noted that the state saved $5 million the first year that its in-house cloud environment was in operation, and it has saved an additional $5 million in cost avoidances in the years since. 

Soon, Delaware will move from a private to a public cloud deployment, the source noted. This will result in even greater cost savings in the years to come. 

A growing trend
Other states are following Delaware's lead. The Fiscal Times reported that in 2013, 6 percent of states' chief information officers said they were highly invested in cloud services. In 2014, that number shot up to 20 percent. And while 2 percent of respondents in 2013 said they had investigated and rejected cloud services, no one adopted this attitude the following year. 

Dan Lohrmann, former chief information security officer for Michigan, observed that people in general are becoming more trusting and familiar with cloud computing, the source reported. This is leading state IT decision-makers to embrace the technology at a growing rate. All told, state and local governments will likely spend more than $600 million on cloud services this year, a figure that will almost certainly increase in the near future.

Fears remain
However, for all of the progress that state governments have made in this area, the source noted that cloud fears are still prominent among IT decision-makers. 

"I think the major thing people are afraid of is lack of control," said Lohrmann, The Fiscal Times reported. "There's a sense of security when you have it under your control."

These fears are understandable, but that does not mean they should prevent government entities from taking full advantage of the cloud. Cloud services can be just as secure as legacy solutions, as long as the proper approach is in place. To this end, state IT decision-makers should look for third-party partners with robust public sector cloud integration experience. By working closely with such firms, state governments can ensure that their cloud solutions are both secure and designed to deliver the best possible performance. 

This becomes especially important as federal, state and local government move an increasing amount of information into cloud environments. After all, the digital landscape is constantly becoming more dangerous as the number of cybercriminals, hackers and state-sponsored cyberterrorists increases steadily. Government data is a highly coveted target for all of these groups. Making matters worse, government agencies typically lack sufficient personnel to combat these threats. Third-party cybersecurity firms, though, have the expertise, resources and experience necessary to guide government cloud integration efforts, and to provide reliable managed security on an ongoing basis.