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We’re only one month into 2014 and we’re already seeing significant momentum around cloud delivery, specifically as it ties to cloud use by government agencies of all sizes. For Accela, this means helping these agencies realize the opportunity to reduce costs, improve service levels and engage with citizens. And we’re not alone. The Center for Digital Government recently published an issue brief talking about why it is time to move to the cloud.

The idea of outsourcing is not new. Government agencies have been outsourcing for decades. However, this latest push toward outsourcing (also known as Cloud Computing) appears to be driven not only by the economy and cost pressures, but also by a shift in citizen expectations as well. In a Government Technology article last year, Maury Blackman, Accela’s CEO, talked about changing citizen expectations and how cloud can impact an agency’s ability to deliver these services faster.

The decision to move these civic processes to the cloud comes with considerations, and whether the time is right for your agency to make the shift ultimately depends on your point of view. Here are some points to consider:

  • Security. Is it safe? In many cases, it is safer to outsource than to keep your operations in house.
  • Do you have in-house expertise? It may be better to focus on your core competencies and to find outside experts than to hire, especially given increased scrutiny of government spending. We also believe this lets you focus on running your government business rather than your technology infrastructure.
  • Financial. Should you continue buying a perpetual license and hosting the application on-premises or should you pay for subscription licenses and host in the cloud? Depending upon your needs, the numbers may work in favor of subscription licenses. You can save by not having to buy new infrastructure and/or a new data center. A recent article in Government Technology entitled “Rethinking Your IT Workforce” cites that the “Great Recession” certainly contributed to agencies embracing cloud computing.

Given these considerations, small and medium government (SMG) agencies should definitely take a look to see whether cloud computing makes sense for them. Check out how Nogales, Arizona, (population 21,000) has benefited from its cloud deployment for planning and permitting. Even larger agencies (with more staff and financial means) are moving their operations to the cloud. In a recent conversation with Development Services Director Peter Pirnejad from Palo Alto, California, he said, “I’d rather spend our resources on our innovation and not the hardware. We spend too much time trying to update our servers when we should just be focused on the technology. A cloud-based environment lets us do that.”

We’ve put together a simple total cost of ownership comparison tool to help you get started. When looking at the on-premises column, it is easy to forget that beyond license and annual maintenance, there are a host of other costs to account for: data center (leasing, power, cooling, other utilities), hardware and software to run the IT infrastructure, full time engineer(s) to run the operations, a disaster recovery site, etc. Taking all these “hidden costs” into account, you can see the benefits of moving to the cloud. I encourage you to look at why Accela’s data centers can serve as your outsourced foundation.


The Total Cost of Ownership Comparison tool compares the
costs of an on-premises solution vs. hosting in the cloud.

I could talk more about how cloud services lower your upfront costs (Capital Expenses, or CapEx) and tap into your operational expenses (OpEx versus CapEx), but I encourage you to try out the tool and put in numbers that make sense for your agency. The default numbers are entered for illustrative purposes only. We think it will help you discover why moving to the cloud is a no-brainer for SMGs and even larger agencies.

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