On Wednesday, Jan 20th, the organization behind the Colorado state web portal
issued an RFP
"for web-based Collaboration, Office Productivity and Email functionality through a Software as a Service (SaaS) model." According to the state web portal, the Statewide Internet Portal Authority (SIPA) was created ...to provide efficient and effective services for citizens through the use of modern business practices and innovative technology solutions. In an accompanying press release issued by SIPA
, the organization believes that the move will save the state a considerable amount of constituent dough because it will enable them "to synchronize private sector capabilities with the needs of governments for foundational IT services".
The news release also references a 2009 study done by Forrester
that claims that the average cost for an on-premise email is $16-$25 per month per user, depending on the size of the organization. I don't know about you, but that it a might bit steeper than the cost here in my organization. And judging from the chatter on my listservs today, my lower cost estimate seems to be more commonplace, at least here at the local level. That being said, email and the collaboration tools we use are not exactly cheap. For those of us running Exchange, Groupwise, LotusNotes and the like, we are facing constantly increasing maintenance fees and ongoing personnel costs to fuel these beasts, so the appeal is certainly there. As one of my astute peers said today in an email: "We are considering moving to a hosted environment for e-mail, but we are doing
it for survival, not savings." Many of us are entering the second or even third year of gouging budget cuts. Our bottom line keeps getting lower but our colleagues in the organization seek technology to automate their labor and cost intensive process to meet their own reduced target. Something has gotta give here peeps!
Enter SaaS, or more specifically enter a serious conversation and consideration of that cloud stuff. Colorado's RFP is a strong indicator for us in the public sector. When a tech-savvy and incredibly diverse organization like that can show a formal interest in the cloud, the times they are a changin'! Of course Colorado is not the first to head down this path to take a look. Back in October of 2009 the City of Los Angeles blazed a contentious and widely publicized path
when they committed to replacing their aging Novell Groupwise system with Google Apps...in the cloud. Just this week LA confirmed their progress
on this front, undeterred by the recent China-based attacks on Google's infrastructure. That's 30,000 accounts folks...starting at the end of March. And LA is not alone. Orlando has already made the move along with smaller governments such as Macon and Canton, GA
. And Washington DC made the move
before their CTO moved to his new federal CIO post.
To me, this progress shows us in the public sector that SaaS as a viable cost savings effort has got some sturdy legs to it. The concept of moving to the cloud has gone from "trendsetting" to "costsaving" and this is a move that I think all of us in the public sector can get behind these days!