While private and public organizations may differ substantially in their objectives and ways of operating, they are united by some common challenges andrequirements. In light of an age of rapid technological advancement, one of these is the need for a solid IT system that can cope with the exponentially growing reams of data organizations today have to handle.
Enterprises and government bodies alike are therefore becoming increasingly aware of the importance of maintaining the right cloud infrastructure. Cloud computing, particularly the hybrid option, has completely and irrevocably revolutionized how IT systems are run and data are shared. And while much of the focus thus far has been granted to business applications, governments can also find that well-informed hybrid cloud management can reap massive benefits.
The numbers don't lie - in 2013 industry research group MarketsandMarkets predicted that the global government cloud market will be worth US$18.5 billion by 2018, at a compound annual growth rate of 45.1 per cent from 2013 to 2018. Additionally, a 2013 survey from Gartner revealed that cloud computing is one of "the top three focus areas for investment" for governments.
Given these figures, it's no real surprise that government agencies around the world have been exploring the benefits of cloud computing. But what makes hybrid cloud in particular an appealing solution for this sector?
Security is one of the biggest concerns any type of organization can have when taking to the cloud. It's an especially pertinent issue for government agencies in particular - according to a 2013 research survey from the Center for Digital Government, more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of respondents said that security is their "top cloud concern". It's also worth noting that in the same survey, hybrid was found to be the most desired cloud model, attracting 41 per cent of votes.
With governmental cyber attacks constantly a threat in an often hostile global political climate, maintaining a high level of IT security is essential. However, not all government data is sensitive and doesn't require the same scrutiny and security measures - which means a hybrid cloud can offer the flexibility that governments crave.
A hybrid cloud model allows governments to choose which information they want to migrate to the cloud and which they want to keep in-house for added security, truly offering them the best of both worlds.
As with business, governments often work to extremely tight deadlines and regularly contend with unexpected surprises that need a fast solution. The operational speed that the hybrid cloud offers can thus be a lifesaver for government agencies.
One of the reasons the hybrid cloud can be so nimble and agile is that it allows any organization to use the infrastructure it already has. Government agencies can use the systems and processes they are familiar with while still taking advantage of the vast efficiencies of working with a public cloud infrastructure.
By operating an agency-wide hybrid solution, collaboration and speed can also be improved between governmental departments.
A case study in governmental cloud deployment
According to a May 21 2014 GCN article, a hybrid model would theoretically work best for many government agencies. Using the U.S. government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an example, the article notes that a hybrid model could meet the agency's needs for extra computing resources when a potential global health threat emerges.
This is based on a hypothetical environment that allows the rapid sharing of information and greater collaboration between national and local healthcare agencies, with the help of BioSense and similar applications. Collecting information around the world on rapidly-spreading diseases is crucial, and researchers need to be able to obtain added computing power should a sizable outbreak hit. A hybrid model could allow agencies like the CDC to run a private cloud for everyday computing needs but quickly scale up with added public resources whenever necessary.
This is just one example of how a hybrid cloud could benefit governmental organizations, and it will be worth seeing how quickly agencies around the globe adopt the hybrid route moving forward.
Cloud computing and open hybrid clouds are part of a sweeping transformation across all facets of the IT industry. Access this IDC Technology Spotlight on strategies for achieving true data and workload portability in a hybrid cloud future.