Cloud and big data help governments stay afloat

by Sohini Bagchi    Jun 18, 2013

cloud big data

Weaker economic development across the world is prompting government IT departments to embrace cloud technologies and services, according to Gartner. The research firm also sees big data as an emerging area of interest for governments. According to Gartner, the global IT spending by government this year has slightly decreased at 0.1 percent from 2012 as government agencies continue to struggle against weak economic development.

The cloud spectacle

“The spends in cloud computing will continue to increase compared to previous years, driven by economic conditions and a shift from capital expenditure to operational expenditure, as well as potentially more important factors such as faster deployment and reduced risk,” said Christine Arcaris, research director at Gartner.

Although governments of developed economies, especially Western Europe that are reeling under economic crisis will show a significant momentum in cloud adoption, those in emerging countries such as India are also very upbeat. SaaS has already become a preferred technology by businesses – both large and mid-sized entities. Shamyo Chatterjee, CIO, CallidusCloud states that SaaS market is gaining momentum in a big way with government, who are also early adopters of this technology, especially in India.

Gartner predicts while CIOs in the government will focus initially was on software-as-a-service (SaaS) implementation, future rollouts will include infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS). According to the survey, respondents reported that they are adopting public and private cloud-based services at an increasing rate, with 30-50 per cent of organizations planning for, or having an active IT services contract within the next 12 months.

Of the several trends driving government cloud adoption, the proliferation and maturity of smart mobile devices are among the most influential. The momentum building for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs is said to have a major effect on cloud adoption believe experts. The demand is strongest in government agencies with more decentralized staff and those that have a large field workforce or specialized needs (such as border patrol agents, inspectors and social workers) and that benefit from mobile investments. This next wave of technology adoption will develop over time, as agencies replace existing hardware with new mobile-cloud infrastructure and devices.

Of the organizations surveyed, 52 percent said employees are allowed to bring their own smartphones to work, and 50 percent can use their own laptop, followed by tablets at 38 percent. “As smartphones and tablets continue to be deployed within the government sector, cloud computing solutions will be launched alongside them to create greater efficiency,” says Chatterjee.

Big data evolution

The survey also indicated that while big data is not yet a high priority among survey respondents, it is gaining momentum. The focus on government efficiency means opportunity for big data, as it represents an emerging focal point for specific government modernization. As Art Coviello, executive vice president of EMC believes that big data is critical to Government IT as they will increasingly use it as a weapon to combat the ever growing cyber threats, besides improving processes and efficiency - to keep pace with the change.

“The role of the government can be particularly important in facilitating information sharing and creating awareness when it comes to combating cybercrime. With most governments currently using traditional perimeter-based defenses, making it nearly impossible for them to identify spot unknown threats, leveraging big data analytics can help them in pervasive monitoring, threat information sharing and intelligent controls,” he explains.

“Government organizations have increased big data spending for improper payment systems, indicating the desire to tackle fraud, waste and abuse within agencies, as well as target upfront errors in revenue collection,” said Arcaris. She believes while agencies are assessing how to manage, leverage and store big data, not many have addressed the challenges associated with the utilization of content and the issues associated with merging large amounts of data onto a single platform. Vendors must understand the challenges and integrate big data solutions to specific agency workflows – to keep up with the pace of change.