Skip to main content

Cloud Computing -- How High Should Government Fly?

The information technology industry has fallen head over heels when it comes to cloud computing. Many analysts have weighed in on the inevitability of shutting down your outdated server room and shifting to services that are hosted on the Internet at a remote data center.

It's hard to argue against the cloud computing trend, especially since most of us who are active in IT are using cloud services ourselves, whether it may be email, cloud storage, online collaboration, and many more.

Government agencies are also enraptured with cloud computing, as it conjures up visions of faster projects not to mention the perennial prospect of giant cost savings. The Obama administration is promoting cloud computing and agencies are embarking on an unprecedented push from government owned and controlled computing to using commercial capabilities. So far, no major missteps or tragedies have marred the cloud love affair.

But not so fast. Government needs are different than either our individual consumer needs or corporate requirements. To maximize savings with cloud computing, you have to accept the services as offered to the mass market. The more you ask for customization, the higher the cost of initial acquisition and maintenance.

Government customers often value stability more than keeping up with the latest in technology. The ability of cloud services to be updated literally overnight may be a curse as well as a blessing for government workers. What if a new feature requires retraining? How would a vendor resolve conflicts among requested features?

The business rules of government are different than those of businesses. Even the smallest details such as nomenclature or definitions may be embodied in regulations which are reflected in information systems. When the federal tax code changes, for instance, the IRS must update its software for receiving, enforcing and auditing taxes.

Security requirements are more stringent for government than for most businesses. It would be damaging to a company to have its chicken seasoning or soft drink recipe exposed, but government agencies have higher stakes such as national security. The agencies focused on law enforcement and national security correctly see the risks of cloud computing outweighing the putative rewards. Civilian agencies face security challenges as well, such as privacy for health information and social services.

Even government purchasing is ill suited to cloud computing. How do you write a procurement for subscription services whose costs cannot reliably be predicted? What if actual usage doesn't match what is budgeted? Will the proprietary nature of most cloud services discourage competition for contracts? Will government customers become handcuffed to particular services and have a hard time switching vendors?

Will government fly too high like Icarus in the quest for cloud computing and end up taking a nasty fall? Only time will tell.

Popular posts from this blog

Key Concepts for Microsoft Dynamics 365: Tenant, Instance, App and Solution

To understand Microsoft Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM), you need to learn some new terms and concepts that may be a bit different from what you know from databases and solutions that are hosted on premises. This post introduces some of the key terms and how these concepts are important for planning your implementation. While Dynamics 365 is available on premises, it is most commonly deployed on the Microsoft cloud.  This blog post discusses only cloud implementations. Microsoft has multiple clouds such as commercial and government community clouds. We start with a Microsoft tenant .  A tenant is the account you create in the Microsoft Online Services environment (such as Office 365) when you sign up for a subscription. A tenant contains uniquely identified domains, users, security groups, and subscriptions.  Your tenant has a domain name of .onmicrosoft.com such as acme.onmicrosoft.com.  User accounts belong to a tenant, and subscriptions are assigned to user accoun

Understanding Dynamics 365 and Office 365 Admin Roles

Managing Dynamics 365 instances If you run Microsoft Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM) in the Microsoft cloud, you need to understand how your Dynamics instances relate to Office 365 and choose which of your administrators receives which roles and permissions to manage Dynamics 365. In on premises deployments, your network administrator would create and delete user accounts.  The Dynamics 365 admin would then assign permissions to users in Dynamics 365. This post explains three administrator roles: Office 365 Global Administrator Dynamics 365 System Administrator Dynamics 365 Service Administrator You may think that the Dynamics 365 system administrator would have power to do all the actions needed to manage Dynamics 365, but this is not the case. What's different in Microsoft cloud deployments is that licenses and user accounts are managed in Office 365 by an Office 365 Global Administrator.  This role is analogous to a network administrator for an on premises

Replacing Microsoft InfoPath with Power Apps

Source:  https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/infopath/ by James Townsend Microsoft has offered a number of forms automation products over the years, and the most long running was InfoPath which was released as part of Office 2003.  InfoPath is a powerful and flexible product that stores user data in XML while offering form features such as rules, data validation, scripting, and integration with SharePoint.  The popularity of SharePoint resulted in many organizations standardizing on InfoPath for forms, especially internal forms which are hosted on an intranet such as employee reviews, leave and payment requests, and human resources forms. Microsoft has discontinued InfoPath, with mainstream support ending July 13th, 2021, and extended support ending July 14th, 2026. Microsoft has named Power Apps as the successor to InfoPath .  Power Apps has much in common with InfoPath.  Both products include integration with SharePoint.  Both are geared toward the citizen developer and do