At a time when every cent invested is measured several times over, the cloud computing approach provides multiple benefits to states and local governments that want to efficiently meet the needs of citizens.
Public administration bodies in various parts of the world are increasingly interested in the use of cloud computing technology, and there are frequent examples and solving individual problems with this approach. The main reason is the possibility of multiple reduction of expenses related to IT infrastructure, as well as the potential for the rapid introduction of services oriented towards the citizens.
The European Union has strategically addressed this issue with the Digital Agenda for Europe. The focus of this document is on the use of cloud computing solutions in line with the Europe 2020 strategy related to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The aim is for IT solutions in public administration to be transferred to the cloud environment, which would allow the integration of public resources and optimal use of ICT owned infrastructure, and result in savings of more than four billion euros annually.
On the other side of the Atlantic, is the world leader in the use of cloud computing solutions. In the US, the introduction of cloud computing technology in the public sector brought the improvement of services for citizens, standardization of services in all locations, advances in education, science and research, as well as the transformation of large sectors such as health, energy, manufacturing, banking and so on. The US government has adopted the policy Cloud First primarily in order to drastically reduce IT costs.
Private cloud was created by US agencies with high requirements for security, while the public cloud transforms the online training of its staff and the information made available to citizens for greater transparency in government. Thus the US, in only 22 days, launched a service in a public cloud that allowed the citizens to see how money collected from taxes intended for the creation of new jobs was used.
Group of seven cities
Directors of the IT sector for seven US cities – Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston and Los Angeles – gathered in order to informally collaborate on the construction of a low-cost IT solution that would allow overcoming of common problems. The group has launched a portal www.cities.data.gov with a set of data held by these cities, which will be integrated with the data of the federal government portal www.data.gov. The aim is to create a test environment on which developers would be able to develop solutions that use available data, for example applications for building permits or inspection reporting.
That the unification of efforts of agencies and other entities can lead to big savings is shown in the example of Virginia where a SaaS solution was used to consolidate procurement of 171 state entities and with resulting savings of $30 million per year.
The situation in Serbia
The public sector in Serbia has a significant impact on economic development, but its efficiency largely depends on the availability of IT resources. Some institutions, because of the number of employees and complex organizational structures, have greater difficulty accepting new technologies, while others have more sophisticated IT resources, but often underutilized. A modest budget that is set aside for investment in this area is slowly inducing institutions to rationally use and invest in IT resources. In such a situation, cloud computing imposes itself as the right solution.
Our country has taken significant steps in this direction by creating a unified cloud computing platform on which a significant number of services for citizens and businesses have already been consolidated. Within this platform, an organizing body has been formed which approves the use of the platform to state authorities so that they can upload their Web applications without having to invest in IT infrastructure.
Perhaps, modeled on examples from around the world, a public set of test data should be established, which would serve to developers in implementing new applications of interest to the public administration. In this way the domestic intelligence would be encouraged and the experience gained could then be offered as a product to other countries on the way to adopting cloud technologies.
Privacy and Security
However, despite the obvious benefits of cloud computing solutions, public institutions are more reluctant in deciding to implement this approach, primarily because they want to know exactly who has access to data and who controls this access.
In order to eliminate concerns regarding data security in the cloud, and on the basis of numerous examples of public organizations that have migrated into the cloud and are satisfied with the level of security and privacy provided, the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications has adopted a strategy for the Digital Agenda, which defines activities to be undertaken in the future development of information society in Serbia. This strategy involves the use of modern information technology in all public sectors. To ensure an easy and painless IT modernization in the public administration, this strategy requires that special attention be paid to the development and future wider application of cloud computing solutions.
Numerous examples of using cloud computing solutions in the public administration show that this approach brings tremendous financial savings of millions of euros. While data security for many is the main concern when adopting this decision, the fact is that the issue of security is now more reliably solved in the cloud – numerous successful implementations, where sensitive data is stored in this type of cloud solution, indicates that a large number of states have growing confidence in cloud computing.
SaaS in Essex
The Essex District has 1.3 million inhabitants and is the largest in England. Within six months, it implemented software that runs under the SaaS model, designed to manage payroll and other services in the field of human resources. The result is a shortening of the time for the payment process from 18 to four hours, as well as more than 800,000 euros savings on IT costs.
The Danish IT and Telecommunications Agency migrated the national system of electronic invoicing to a public cloud. This was done to reduce operating costs and increase the capacity of the system. By applying the IaaS model this was acheived, but the additional benefits were more flexible maintenance and development of applications.
Ministry of Economy and Finance of Argentina decided to virtualize applications and servers for financial administration services. The biggest challenge was the management of the network, which had more than 11,000 users, while ensuring adequate protection and availability.
Their system uses three primary applications – central administration, the local system and a unit for external credit reporting, which is why there was a need to develop a platform that provides users with easy access. The results of the implementation are centralized infrastructure management, unified backup point for all information, secure IT environment, as well as the extension of the lifetime of hardware from three to eight years.
COMING – Computer Engineering is a company that first started providing cloud services on the Serbian market in 2008, from infrastructure to software, covering the complete operations of companies, from domain controller, through a system of communication and collaboration, to ERP, CRM and BI solutions and B2B portals. COMING basically covers all you need to do business.