The world beyond email: collaboration tools find a home in the cloud

14 March 2013 | Keith Olinger, Senior Director, U.S. State and Local Government

​Last month I wrote about a new technology reality in government: most agencies will manage hybrid IT environments comprised of both public and private cloud solutions for the foreseeable future. In fact, the cost-savings and efficiency benefits of cloud has government IT leaders moving beyond the question of if a workload belongs in the cloud, but to a new question: public or private?

It’s slightly more complicated than a simple “mayo or mustard” question.  Governments manage some of the most sensitive information in the world, and must comply with robust security and data sovereignty laws. Not every application makes sense in the public cloud, but as agencies begin building their hybrid architectures for five and ten years down the road, we encourage them to look beyond email. 

Government cloud discussions often start with email, as if it’s a one-off application agencies use independently from other IT assets. But as agencies look to improve overall collaboration, identifying cloud solutions that support a more integrated set of services is critical.  For example, many collaboration tools that we all use at work every day, including unified communications (messaging, voice and video conferencing), productivity (document creation and editing) content management (file sharing) and line of business applications, all represent opportunities to improve agency service delivery while reducing costs. Email should seamlessly integrate with these other collaboration tools to maximize performance, and when the entire suite is moved to the public cloud, the cost savings and information sharing benefits pile up quickly.

We’ve seen a number of governments embrace this strategy recently. The City of Chicago expects to save $1.3 million over the next four years by moving its email and collaboration tools to the cloud, joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, Texas, California, Minnesota and many more on the list of agencies that are reaping similar benefits by moving to Microsoft Office 365

Partnering with a public cloud provider can be a powerful strategy for other government workloads as well, including citizen-facing websites, disaster response portals, 311 systems and big data initiatives, just to name a few. But for agencies looking to start with email, consider the benefits of keeping the entire collaborations team together in the cloud. 

For more information on how to start saving money and improving performance in the age of the hybrid cloud model, visit  

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Keith Olinger
Senior Director, U.S. State and Local Government

About the Author

Keith Olinger | Senior Director, U.S. State and Local Government

Keith and his team help states, cities, and localities across the United States architect successful IT infrastructures. He has nearly 30 years of IT and entrepreneurial experience spanning both the public and private sector. Read more