Government Technology
By Bill Greeves: Exploring government collaboration via technology.

Colorado Takes a Closer Look at the Cloud

January 21, 2010 By

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 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 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!

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Comments    |    Commented March 4, 2010

The public sector, especially local government, I think, could be making much more use of SaaS especially for email and likely backups as well. Even more than cost savings it just makes sense operationally . . . some of these services have become so good that it would be hard to justify replicating the service in-house. The next thing to consider is the role of open source something prevalent in Europe but not so much here Steven    |    Commented June 21, 2010

I've been reading a lot of news lately about the "cloud". It seems by the year 2023 we may all (business and individuals/personal tasks) be living in the cloud. I don't know how much truth there is to this projection but it does make sense. Companies are moving to the cloud to save money on infrastructure and to leverage the load across many systems online/in the cloud, while people are becoming more portable and want a way to interact with their online world without having to carry around all the programs and devices needed to get there. The cloud is IMHO the most efficient, cost effective, and effective means to do a great deal of things, the only issue we're faced with is not when but how will we secure this beast... security makes people and companies feel better, those are the brewing concerns, the technology to put us all in the cloud already exists, we're just waiting for the evolution to happen- companies will be first, then individuals and companies will come out that will build infrastructures in the cloud to service the individuals once they complete their practice with the companies. I'm excited to see where this is going! Thanks for listing folks! Ken

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MuniGov 2.0
Bill Greeves

The MuniGov2.0 blog contains case studies, discussions and reviews from the convergence of Web 2.0 tools such as social media, virtual worlds and collaborative work sites and the local government sector. This blog will highlight the pros, cons, success stories and lessons learned from the field, designed to stimulate discussion, visibility and consideration for the use of 2.0 tools in the public sector local government level. Hopefully, the content of this blog will put readers directly with the theories and practice of 2.0 in local government and the people who are pushing the envelope in each sub-category or technology.