Ontario government sees big potential in a private cloud

18 January 2012 | Michele Bedford Thistle, Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

If the analysts are right, cloud computing stands to make a big splash in 2012. As recently spotlighted in our Saving Governments Money Blog Series, research firm Gartner predicts that by 2015 the public cloud services market will be worth $176.8 billion. This aggressive outlook seems to be shared by many experts and analysts for 2012 and beyond.

From the government perspective, what’s clear is that the cloud is no longer just a buzzword. Over the past few years the cloud has matured into a tested and proven solution that is already helping countless government organizations tackle some of their most pressing IT challenges:

  • Consolidating IT infrastructure
  • Cost-efficiently scaling IT resources to meet huge spikes in user traffic and intermittent computing demands
  • Modernizing both internal and public-facing services, and delivering them in new ways

Across all of these areas, the cloud has proven to be an invaluable asset. It’s this realization that’s making it harder and harder for agencies to ignore, especially given what we’re hearing from customers, who are feeling increasingly pressed to do more with less.

If this sounds familiar, you’re certainly not alone. We also understand that finding a good starting point can be challenging. Consider this case study on Canada’s Ontario province, which is available on our website. We hope it helps as your organization continues mapping out its IT strategy for the new year.

Like many government organizations, the province of Ontario knew that cloud computing would eventually be a part of its IT strategy, but it wanted to first test its feasibility before jumping in head-first. That’s why in early 2011, Ontario collaborated with Microsoft to test expanding a key set of its IT services to a private cloud environment - including Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Forefront Identity Manager, Windows 7 and Office 2010.

Ontario, which is home to roughly a third of Canada’s population, chose to run the feasibility test over a year-long period to demonstrate how quickly it could migrate to the cloud and to uncover future opportunities that a private cloud could offer. The result?

The test proved very successful for the Ontario government, recording "significant" improvements in efficiency, utilization of shared services and scalability as new tasks and projects arose. Seeing the results first-hand has helped Ontario build its confidence in developing a path toward a private cloud, and on such a large scale. As the cloud moves beyond predictions and into actual practice, I believe that we can all learn a lot from Ontario’s innovative and methodical path toward the cloud.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Have a question for the author? Please e-mail us at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

Michele Bedford Thistle
Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

About the Author

Michele Bedford Thistle | Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

Michele is focused on sharing stories from government customers creating real impact for citizens, employees, economies, and students. She joined the worldwide team from Microsoft Canada, where she was also marketing lead for several technology start-ups.