Government Cloud A New Era In Collaboration

When it comes to collaboration, cloud is king

Most government organizations have moved at least some IT services to the cloud, and more will follow in what seems a now inexorable trend. Implementation of online collaboration tools will probably be no different.

However, it’s by no means a slam dunk. A recent survey by the 1105 Public Sector Media Group found a clear preference for cloud-based software-as-a-service deployments of collaboration tools. The one notable exception was among users concerned about security, two-thirds of whom prefer on-premise solutions.

Such a preference reflects the natural comfort zone of some IT managers, said Nick Fisher, product marketing manager for Huddle: They like to stick with what they have and what has served them in the past, and they find the transition to the cloud a daunting process.

“But, in reality, [moving to the cloud] provides some real costs-savings, and that’s something that can be compelling to IT organizations,” he said.

Additionally, cloud-based collaboration empowers a whole new range of services, Fisher said. For example, if an agency’s files are stored in a central location that cannot be easily accessed, users will have a difficult time collaborating using mobile devices. With the cloud, those obstacles go away.

The ability to collaborate with people who outside of the enterprise is so important these days, he said, and on-premise tools severely restrict your ability to do that. You have to specifically provision people to use those tools, and oftentimes they have to use a virtual private network to use the files.

“Then they simply end up saying that’s just too hard to do, so I’m going to use email,” he said. “And that dismisses one of the main reasons you have on-premise tools to begin with, which is to be more secure.”

The survey found that among respondents who were interested in providing mobile collaboration, 54 percent preferred cloud-based solutions, compared to 14 percent who preferred on-premise. Likewise, for people who were interested in providing open access to information, 54 preferred cloud and 20 percent on-premise.

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Several major agencies have already made the transition to the cloud for collaboration. The Defense Department made the jump five years ago with Defense Connect Online. DCO, hosted in a private cloud, is an enterprise system for sharing and collaborating both unclassified and classified content.

Meanwhile, in July of this year, the State Department contracted for a cloud-based videoconferencing and collaboration system to meet its expanding global demand. The cloud is seen as a better way of scaling that kind of video system for that audience.

In fact, scalability comes in just behind mobile and open access as one of the reasons people prefer cloud-based solutions. Others are lower cost of ownership and the ease of implementation.

Methodology and survey demographics

Between June 25th and June 26th , 2014, 159 subscribers of FCW, GCN and other Public Sector Media Group publications responded to an e-mail survey about collaboration trends in government agencies. Survey respondents were comprised of those involved with managing, use or purchase of online collaboration tools for their department or agency. Beacon Technology Partners developed the methodology, fielded the survey and compiled the results.

Approximately 55% of respondents were technology decision-makers (CIOs or other IT managers or professionals), while 45 percent were senior managers, program managers or other business decision-makers. Approximately 63 percent came from the federal government (31 percent civilian, 32 percent defense) and 37 percent from state or local government agencies.

About this Report

This report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Public Sector Media Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Public Sector Media Group Content Solutions, please email us at PSMGCustomMedia@1105media.com