Governments and businesses worry about data safety or compromise, mixing data with cloud provider's users, or a mistaken release. After all, a nation's very security could be at risk.
Yet, governments are working with public cloud providers to send, manage and store highly sensitive information, using encryption with access and storage security measures. IT leaders, as they have done in the past, will need to establish a "risk baseline" for their adoption of cloud computing.
Governments may struggle with the challenges of moving their IT systems to the cloud. It will mean making some tough decisions, yet, cloud computing is the future and the sooner it is adopted, the greater the benefits are likely to be.
Critical success factors
To ensure benefits are maximised and risks minimised, governments must consider:
1. Ask hard questions and demand cost savings analysis A robust ROI analysis should be conducted, bearing in mind conversion, ongoing costs and savings. Pilot on a low-hanging fruit, like workgroup applications or non-mission critical or non-integrated applications. Once benefits are proven, be ready to scale.
2. Establish a clear governance structure for cloud computing
Create a well structured guideline to govern IT decision making on cloud computing and allocate responsibilities appropriately.
3. Track cloud efforts
Ensure cloud computing receives the necessary focused thinking, planning and follow-up. Identify and address both immediate and longer term business needs and opportunities for cloud computing, followed by appropriately responding to the cloud impact on operations.
4. Set the standards for success
Provide oversight to ensure goals and deliverables are well understood, and aligned with business needs. Be clear on how the value from cloud computing is to be determined and consider what else constitutes success.
5. Provide the necessary support
Besides financial resources and technical talent, support other activities that will underpin the success of cloud initiatives. For example, organisations may benefit from a community of practice.
6. Buy cautiously, appraise frequently
Select cloud providers considering their potential for future partnership. Continuously evaluate financial stability, ability to improve functionality and service levels, to integrate data across different technology platforms and cloud services, and to deliver.
Clearly, the cloud has its potential and benefits. However, the critical issue isn't whether cloud computing will become a fundamental technology. It is how successfully companies will profit from the capabilities it offers that matters most.
Lawrence Goh is executive director, Accenture Technology Consulting ASEAN.
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