Gina Tomlinson is an advocate of cloud computing in the public sector, and spoke about the benefits of cloud deployment at a TechAmerica conference in February held in Mountain View, Calif. The conference included the release of a report on cloud computing best practices called The Cloud Imperative: Better Collaboration, Better Service, Better Cost. The report is the product of a state and local government cloud commission organized by the nonprofit TechAmerica Foundation. At the event, Tomlinson spoke with Government Technology about the report and cloud deployment in state and local government.
What’s the significance of having so many state and local government officials, as well as private-sector IT executives come together to develop a comprehensive cloud computing best practices report?
I think the lines are blurring. ... Technology is forcing us to bridge that gap between the public and private sector. I think learning IT as a business — that methodology and that concept, that mindset — is now transitioning into the public sector because it has to.
What other factors should government agencies and departments consider in order to use the cloud successfully?
It’s very important that you select the appropriate service or application that should go to the cloud. Certain applications may not be well suited for the cloud, and there are certain ones that are better suited for the cloud. … I think a very definitive, thorough cloud assessment needs to be done, understanding which applications or systems you’re considering to move to the cloud, understanding the security of your data, and how important that is to your organization. That’s pretty important.
Once an agency or department makes that assessment, what’s the biggest hurdle in going from the concept phase to deployment?
There’s a reticence to change. I think if people are brought to change in a controlled, manageable fashion, it seems to be better adopted.
What other advice do you have for government agencies that want to move to the cloud?
I think it’s great to deploy some concepts, small pilots — kick the tires, so to speak — and then grow your implementation based on the success of the pilots and concepts. [Government agencies should] think about how this deployment is going to change the day-to-day operation of the employees who are currently performing this function, how they’re going to impact those people, and what we can do to mitigate or manage the impact to those persons.