6 things you must know about the national cloud

02 September 2013 | Dan Mannion, Director, Public Sector Cloud Strategy

As I wrote in my May post, governments are placing big bets on national cloud strategy. This month, I want to fill you in on the six things that I think every central government needs to know about the national cloud.

1. It’s a reality.

It’s not a myth or fad or marketing term. It’s a new paradigm. Government leaders everywhere—from Europe to Canada to Australiaare all talking about the national cloud. None of them struggles with 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.

Your national cloud approach will be unique. To choose the best one, start with your goals—perhaps saving money, improving service delivery, or becoming more globally competitive. And then decide which one is your priority. From there, choose the cloud strategy 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 more complex work later. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to be more globally competitive, choose an in-country service provider to develop your local IT workforce and economy.  

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

To the contrary, national cloud is the result of what central governments learned from the last decade’s IT outsourcing trend. Today, you’re defining specific services, service levels, security levels, and moreand requiring constant innovation so you’ll never fall behind again. 

4. It pivots on the right first step.

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

5. It’s hybrid by definition.

No central government can move all of its workloads and IT infrastructure into the public cloud, so by definition, national cloud requires a hybrid approach—one that makes use of both public and private storage. Make sure you work only with IT vendors that understand the complexity of hybrid clouds and have the vision and commitment to help you through this journey. 

6. Without promotion, it will fail.

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

I urge you to think about these six things right now, before you get started. Moving to the 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 these guidelines and choosing the right partners, you’ll greatly increase your chance for success.

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

Dan Mannion
Director, Public Sector Cloud Strategy

About the Author

Dan Mannion | Director, Public Sector Cloud Strategy

Dan Mannion leads Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector cloud sales business, delivering the most innovative solutions to government, health, and education customers around the globe. Read more