The fastest path to ROI in the national cloud

GovernmentIT budgets have been slashed even as service expectations have skyrocketed.Citizens now expect access to all services all the time, leading manygovernments ever closer to a national cloud deployment. But like any newinitiative, a national cloud needs to show a return on investment, and fast.Here are three best practices to make it happen.

1. Implement the most impactful workloadsfirst.

Over thelast 10 to 15 years, governments have consolidated many basic IT services. Andjust in the last three years, we’re seeing a trend toward further consolidationthistime into the national cloud where it’s easy to get economies of scale,optimize costs, and calculate ROI.

To get onboard, first consolidate services that are taken for granted as part ofeveryday business, such as email, messaging, and collaboration. Whether you’rein an emerging country that’s modernizing IT or a mature country that’sstandardizing services with in-country providers, consolidating these basicworkloads first makes you more efficientand gives you the fastest returnon your investment.

2. Buy existing functionality instead ofbuilding it.

Acquiringrather than building the functionality you need reduces time and costs whileaccelerating ROI. For example, today you can cover your communications needswith off-the-shelf products while also getting advanced email, messaging, andcollaboration capabilitiesincluding archiving, auditing, andcustom forms. It’s more affordable than you might imagine. Everyone in IT agreesthat “free” is never free, and we often grossly underestimate the cost ofsupporting, updating, changing, fixing, upgrading, migrating, and managing freesolutions. Instead, you should concentrate on freeing your limited IT resourcesfrom managing and maintaining packaged software, enabling them to focus on themore strategic goal of better government service delivery through technology.

3. Choose the fastest implementationapproach.

As Idescribed in a previous post, there are three approaches to national cloud strategy. The pace of ROI differs based onwhich approach you take.

  • Publiccloud

The fastestROI is found in the public cloud because the service is there, theinfrastructure is done, and the economies of scale can’t be matched.Implementing your national cloud this way is just a matter of subscribing andon-boarding your people. 

  • Dedicated,in-country hoster

The second-fastestapproach is having a dedicated, in-country hoster to help you design andimplement the solution. This is relatively quick because these partners havethe skills, experience, and resources you need.  Just be aware, the more you ask for customfeatures, the faster you increase your total cost of ownership (TCO). 

  • Self-host

The third-fastestimplementation strategy is to host your national cloud yourself. Because youmay procure IT help as needed, there may not be a lot of ready resourcesin-house. Outsourced help will have to come up to speed and acquire skills. Youalso may not have the physical resources (such as data centers) that you’llneed. All of this takes time.  

Followingthese three practices will help you get your national cloud to market fasterwithfaster user adoption and employee trainingfor an overall faster return onyour investment. Citizens will get what they need and want, and you’ll be creatingthe foundation for a more streamlined government that makes your limited budgetgo further.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Or e-mail us at

Dan Mannion
Director, Public Sector Cloud Strategy