6 things you must know about the national cloud

As I wrotein myMay post, governments are placing big bets on national cloud strategy. Thismonth, I want to fill you in on the six things that I think every centralgovernment needs to know about the national cloud.

1. It’s a reality.

It’s not amyth or fad or marketing term. It’s a new paradigm. Government leaders everywhere—from Europeto Canada to Australiaare all talking about the national cloud. None of them struggleswith the question of “If.” It’s “How” and “When” that keep them up at night.It’s time to accept that the cloud is real, get familiar with the fundamentals,and seize this huge opportunity.

2. It’s different for every country.

Yournational cloud approach will be unique. To choose the best one, start with yourgoals—perhapssaving money, improving service delivery, or becoming more globally competitive.Andthen decide which one is your priority. From there, choose the cloudstrategy that achieves the prioritized goal. If you need to save money quickly,adopt public cloud services now. They’ll free up budget for you to do morecomplex work later. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to be more globallycompetitive, choose an in-country service provider to develop your local IT workforceand economy.  

3. It’s not the same as IT outsourcing.

To thecontrary, national cloud is the result of what central governments learned fromthe last decade’s IT outsourcing trend. Today, you’re defining specificservices, service levels, security levels, and moreand requiring constantinnovation so you’ll never fall behind again. 

4. It pivots on the right first step.

Like anylarge, long-term project, your national cloud approach must be easy tounderstand and quick to garner support. To build credibility for your entireplan, the first project must succeed. Email-as-a-service is the first step in 70percent of the projects governments undertake. That’s because it’s easy todeploy, so it provides a quick return on investment that validates theplan. 

5. It’s hybrid by definition.

No central governmentcan move all of its workloads and IT infrastructure into the public cloud, soby definition, national cloud requires a hybrid approach—one that makes use of both public andprivate storage. Make sure you work only with IT vendors that understandthe complexity of hybridclouds and have the vision and commitment to help you through thisjourney. 

6. Without promotion, it will fail.

Just becauseyou have a national cloud doesn’t mean your customers will know about it—or useit. To succeed, your project must be promoted from the ministerial level andhigher. Before you start, nail down your sponsorship model and communicationoptions. If possible, implement a procurement mandate that forces agency ITgroups onto your national cloud. And make sure you measure cloud uptake so youcan show the impact of the change to other IT departments.

I urge youto think about these six things right now, before you get started. Moving tothe national cloud is a strategic transformation—one that takes time, a lot of effort,and the fortitude of leaders willing to see it through. By following theseguidelines and choosing the right partners, you’ll greatly increase yourchance for success.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let meknow @Microsoft_Gov. Or e-mailus at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

Dan Mannion
Director, Public Sector Cloud Strategy