The cloud is all clear and promising, but do people really understand what it is all about? It is now part of almost all sectors of society from small businesses to giant online shops, from social networking to government finances. The next move from giant nations like the US is to migrate entirely to the cloud for its 25 point implementation program to upgrade its federal IT infrastructure.
Wikipedia defines cloud computing as “the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).”
A little more background would be helpful to get the clear picture of what the cloud really entails. Since, cloud computing is about services, enterprises would benefit for its accounting transactions such as debits, credits, payables and receivables, which are provided via a digitized computational resources.
Another huge difference of cloud solutions from the traditional computing is the less storage and software requirement. A user only needs a computer terminal and a stable internet connection to access data and to work. Everything now from files, storage, software and applications are on the virtual cloud.
Governments that plan to move to the cloud saw the need to identify at least 3 areas that need to migrate and eventually to let go of the old system. The first migration is expected within the month and the other two should be ready by June next year. The government hopes to work with SaaS to provide the necessary functional and technical cloud platform.
Cloud migration, however, is not without challenges like what happened with Amazon’s EC-2 that experienced extensive power outage that caused severe connection problems for users. Another is the issue on user cloud security and data control.
These issues require detailed attention if the government is move to the cloud, so senior agency finance managers and performance officers are on the lead in making the necessary assessment and evaluation prior to cloud migration.
Still another issue is about shared data on the cloud, which the Labor Department may use. As early as 2010 the department thought it necessary to replace its 20-year old financial system and instead use a cloud platform that will allow the 22 organizations to be integrated. The migration to the Shared Service Provider Appliance brought expected challenges like legacy issues, training requirements, process change issues, human resources concerns and financial management problems.
The major issue, however, remains to be on cloud security as it poses the greatest challenge for IT managers who need to consider sensitive and confidential government data. This was identified as early as May when the federal panel first convened to discuss about the cloud plans.
Cloud computing is definitely here to stay and it promises business revenues, but at the same time poses challenges, which the government need to do further evaluationto make the best practices cloud model.