IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

How the Cloud is Changing Everything for Government IT

More governments are doing big data analytics, high-performance computing, collaborative applications and disaster recovery in the cloud.

If you want to understand the evolution of cloud computing adoption in state and local government, one place to start might be in the Alachua County Property Appraiser’s Office in Gainesville, Fla.

The appraiser’s office occasionally struggled to maintain the onsite GIS it operates for itself and other local jurisdictions. “We've had experiences where our software license management server has been up and down,” said Bob Bates, executive director of GIS, Technology and Support Services. “We've had staffing issues in the IT department. We got proposals for contracting the service out, but it's very expensive.” So a few months ago, the county shifted its Esri ArcGIS instance into the cloud with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Its first monthly bill was only $230. “That is the beauty of the cloud,” Bates said. “It is pay as you go. If we want more resources, we can just check a box.”

Logan Couch, a GIS programmer analyst, said many things can be done much faster in the cloud. “We can do the type of setup in one day that used to take weeks because it would have to touch on several county departments and city agencies. Now I can just jump in and do it myself.”

Bob Bates, executive director of GIS, Technology and Supprt Services, Alachua County, Fla., Property Appraiser's Office

Bob Bates, executive director of GIS, Technology and Support Services for the Alachua County Property Appraiser’s Office in Gainesville, Fla.

Bates said the county is considering putting a disaster preparedness and response application in the cloud too, so that city and county executives could use their mobile devices to access it. “We're just getting our feet wet,” he said.

Alachua County’s experience shows how and why resource-constrained government agencies are taking advantage of cloud services.

Steve Halliwell, senior global director of state and local government and education at Amazon Web Services, said he sees lots of customers like Alachua County that turn to the cloud to execute well on their core business functions. They're realizing they can experiment and have more agility in terms of starting on projects without waiting for hardware or a business justification based on capacity planning, he added. “I see folks who don’t have their own data center or 60 IT people on staff, but are able to use AWS to get going quickly because we do the undifferentiated heavy lifting and they can focus on their business processes.”

Budget cuts have forced the hands of many small local governments, said Lauren Nelson, an analyst for Forrester Research. They're out of data center space, so what do they do? It's basically an outsourcing story, she said. The recession forced many local governments to scale back on IT costs and staffing. “Many have the same amount of work but half the team,” she said, so moving to cloud services, both hosted private and public, can help.

Besides budget pressures, there are elemental changes in how vendors talk about cloud now that could encourage public-sector cloud adoption, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. A few years ago, it was common for early adopters to predict that desktop computing and private data centers would disappear and be replaced by enormous public cloud infrastructures. But customers have told cloud vendors that some proprietary apps and heavily regulated data will never leave their data center, he said.

“Now we're seeing repositioning around the notion of the hybrid cloud, where an organization could put some business processes, such as customer relationship management [CRM], into a cloud like offers,” King said. “This allows CIOs to support departments with services from Amazon or Google but still keep critical IT assets behind locked doors.”

Interested in cloud services? Here's a map of nearly 60 companies that provide almost anything as a service for public-sector customers. You can also view a list of these companies here.

At the other end of the spectrum from Alachua County’s Property Appraiser’s Office are larger, more sophisticated IT organizations developing cloud strategies that fit into their enterprise architecture planning. 

The promise of software as a service (SaaS) rings true for Delaware CIO Jim Sills. In 2010 when the governor’s office needed a CRM application for constituent tracking, and wanted something quickly, the state turned to for Government and got it up and running in two months. That was one step in a much larger process. 

“In 2009 we began the cloud-first policy by piggybacking on the federal policy,” Sills said. “We've set up a private cloud and virtualized 85 percent of the state’s physical servers, which saves the state $4 million per year.” The state now has 70 applications in the cloud — from event notification to cybersecurity training.

Delaware has been a leader in developing cloud policies, including the creation of procurement and contracting language. At first, IT leaders worked with the procurement team to piggyback on another state’s contract. “That was the only way we could procure initially because the state laws had not kept pace,” Sills said, adding that buying cloud services adds more complexity to the procurement process. “With software as a service, you're actually buying a bundle of things: software, hardware and network security in a bundled package. Most states don't have contract vehicles for all those components. It is still a challenge to procure.”

In 2010 Delaware started documenting SaaS terms and conditions instead of starting from scratch with each vendor. “We came up with nine mandatory and 13 preferred conditions to help us vet cloud vendors more efficiently,” Sills said. Now Delaware is working with several other states, a dozen cloud companies and the Center for Digital Government on a task force to develop standard cloud terminology. The task force is using Delaware’s terms and conditions template as a base for other state, city and county governments to use. [The Center for Digital Government is owned by e.Republic, publisher of Government Technology.]

The city and county of San Francisco also is investigating how best to apply private and hybrid cloud environments for the scalability and flexibility they offer. “There are legacy applications that we're going to keep on premises, but even on premises, you can still take advantage of the cloud approach or value proposition,” said Miguel Gamiño Jr., acting CIO for the city. “Cloud is a very broad term. It is a philosophy, not a product. I can apply cloud strategies and philosophies to my on-premises environment.”

San Francisco’s IT leaders look at a matrix of public, private and hybrid clouds, as well as onsite environments. “We go platform by platform and application by application and draw a box where it might best reside. We also are re-evaluating our own data center constructs, architectures and vendors, as we establish those different environments,” explained Gamiño, who's also leading San Francisco’s transition of close to 30,000 users to Microsoft’s Office 365 public cloud.

“We have to build those various platforms before we can move the applications, but we have to analyze the applications’ eligibility for those platforms, so we scale them properly,” Gamiño said. “It is a classic chicken and egg problem. We have to build it and plan for it simultaneously.”

Like San Francisco, Michigan’s cloud adoption has matured and evolved from experimentation to something more systematic. “Every time projects are prioritized, we look at architecture and design and ask ourselves which model makes the most sense,” said Rodney Davenport, CTO of the state’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB). “Return on investment is applied to projects at the highest level and cloud is considered as an option. We have to look at the relative strength of where it makes sense to run which applications.”

The DTMB regularly reviews how its computing functions align with state agency business needs in light of new cloud computing opportunities and offerings. Michigan’s MiCloud initiative — a centralized cloud computing service launched several years ago — has made great progress in areas like virtual data storage and virtual server hosting. And as the DTMB has noted previously, one benefit of cloud computing is that it frees up resources. “We reduce cycle times for standing up test and production servers, because development server requests are removed from the work queue,” a DTMB document notes. “Our capital is not tied up in physical development infrastructure; virtual development servers are de-allocated when not in use. This also saves power, HVAC, UPS capacity, rack space, floor space, switch ports, SAN ports, monitoring capacity, O/S licenses, application licenses and database licenses, among others.”

One promising aspect of cloud computing in the public sector is the opportunity for shared services. “There may be certain kinds of functions and processes that don’t vary much from one state to the other. It seems silly to have 50 unique applications for something like managing payments,” said Pund-IT’s King. “The idea of states working together with common pools of resources to develop platforms they need and share development costs makes perfect sense.”

Michigan's state government has explored working with other jurisdictions on sharing cloud infrastructure and applications. “We are working with Oakland County [Mich.]’s G2G Marketplace on an RFP for external cloud providers,” Davenport said. “We expect to use several for storage and processing in burst capacities.”

Michigan also partnered with Illinois on a shared services cloud module that they've dubbed “Medicaid as a Service.” The first of three envisioned phases included the recent rollout of the Electronic Health Records Incentive Payment Program, an online solution that lets state administrators review provider registrations and authorize incentive payments for approved providers.

Multijurisdictional efforts like these are starting to become more common. “We're starting to see more examples of shared services happening,” said Patrick Mungovan, vice president of strategic programs for Oracle Public Sector. He cited as examples shared ERP implementations between Allegheny County, Pa., and Pittsburgh as well as Local Government Information Services, a long-standing organization that provides applications and IT services for 45 Minnesota cities and counties.

“It gets more complicated when you cross state lines,” Mungovan said. “We hear lots of talk about multistate community clouds, but we have not seen a whole lot of activity yet. The cloud is not a panacea, and it doesn't reduce the complexity level of things like procurement.”

Government Technology has reported on the ups and downs of several of these efforts, including the Southeast Consortium for Unemployment Benefits Improvements and the Western States Contracting Alliance shared GIS data storage procurement project.

San Francisco’s Gamiño sees an opportunity in multijurisdictional cloud efforts. “Right now we are getting our hands around our jurisdiction’s ability to leverage the cloud, but if you can get municipalities within a county or state to share data, then it can grow exponentially.” Can cities and states share data with one another and the federal government? “The opportunity is there, for sure,” he said. “We are seeing a lot of municipalities focus on trying to take advantage of it.”

Over the past three years, Amazon’s Halliwell said he's noticed an evolution toward more sophisticated uses of cloud computing in state and local government. “When I first started engaging with customers, they were looking at some first-adopter things such as websites and storage,” he said. “Now we're seeing more customers doing big data analytics, high-performance computing, collaborative applications, government-to-business portals and statewide archiving, as well as disaster recovery and GIS applications in emergency response.”

Pund-IT’s King said another promising area is using the cloud as a development platform. “It is an area where Amazon found its real success. It is easier for application developers to create an Amazon instance than to set up physical hardware on-premises,” he said. “That model continues to be a major portion of Amazon’s service business, and there is no reason application and process developers at the state and local level couldn’t gain the same kind of benefits.”

Shawn McCarthy, IDC Government Insights research director, also sees promise in hosted development environments. An agency or group of agencies may lease a cloud space to develop something. They may keep it in the cloud, or because of agency restrictions about who can access it, they may move it back onto internal servers. “As more of these cloud environments get approved for government use, there is not necessarily a reason to move them back inside.”

Open data initiatives may be another good candidate for cloud computing. Chris Thomas, government industry manager of Esri, said his company is working on ArcGIS for open data. “I am not sure, but I think cities will tend to put those in the cloud for scalability.”

San Francisco, which has devoted considerable resources to open data initiatives, sees potential for the cloud in those initiatives.

“Open data is an interesting paradox because on one hand we are trying to make data available in a readable format, because we want people to be able to access it in its raw state,” Gamiño said. “But we also have increasing security concerns regarding the source systems of that data. We have to be careful about how we build those open data systems to make sure data is transparent and easy to get to. The hybrid cloud may help with those conflicting priorities, so we can lock the gate but let you see through it.”

Visit page 2 of our story for a list of nearly 60 cloud companies. 


Interested in cloud services?

Here's a list of nearly 60 companies that provide almost anything as a service for public-sector customers. 

ACCELA: A longtime provider of self-service permitting and licensing applications for the public sector, civic cloud platform veteran Accela made a conscious shift in focus to hosted services in recent years, making its products more accessible to smaller jurisdictions. Cities like Palo Alto, Calif., and El Paso, Texas, now use Accela’s platform to develop citizen-facing apps tracking services like permits and garbage pickup. HQ: San Ramon, California 

AINS: A member of the Amazon Partner Network, AINS provides cloud-based infrastructure and software services. Now authorized to operate under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), AINS counts the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Fairfax County, Va., among its public-sector cloud clients. HQ: Gaithersburg, Maryland

AIRWATCH: AirWatch's Enterprise Mobility Management platform in the cloud is used by government agencies to simplify the process of deploying mobile devices. Pierce County, Wash., for example, used AirWatch to wirelessly configure hundreds of tablets for its employees. In 2013, the company acquired Motorola's mobility services platform, allowing it to work with ruggedized devices used by government employees who work outside of a typical office environment. HQ: Atlanta, Georgia      

AKAMAI: Akamai’s cloud services are used by 13 out of 15 cabinet-level agencies in the federal government, all branches of the U.S. military and various other state and local governments. An Internet content delivery network recognized as one of the world's largest distributed computing platforms, Akamai's worldwide servers are rented by customers who wants their websites to work faster by having content distributed from a location closer to the user accessing it. HQ: Cambridge, Massachusetts 

AMAZON: Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a leader in the infrastructure-as-a-service market, and has a strong presence in the public sector. The company was among the first major cloud providers to comply with the federal government’s FedRAMP cloud security standards. AWS also is the platform behind a number of innovative state and local government deployments, including an open source, cloud-based unemployment application launching this summer in Iowa. HQ: Seattle, Washington  

AUTONOMIC RESOURCES: Now partnered with Akamai Technologies, Autonomic was founded in 2001 to provide IT services to federal agencies. The company's cloud platform has lined up several certifications in recent years, starting with FISMA-moderate in December 2011. Today, the company runs IaaS for both government community and private cloud networks, with all offerings either having received, or  being processed for, FedRAMP accreditation. Among its major clients is the U.S Department of Defense. HQ: Cary, North Carolina  

AT&T: Used by public-sector agencies like Detroit’s Department of Water and Sewerage, AT&T touts its ability to secure agency resources and citizen data in the cloud. The company also has a hand in several major state contracts, including multi-year outsourcing agreements with  the Texas Department of Information Resources and the state of Georgia, alongside IBM. HQ: Dallas, Texas 

CA TECHNOLOGIES: Software giant CA offers a suite of IT management software systems via the cloud. Services include planning, implementation, and identity and access management. The company says its solutions have been used by public-sector agencies for more than 35 years. For instance, the Mount Isa City Council in Australia used CA technologies to create a private cloud infrastructure last year to simplify IT management and reduce cost. HQ: New York City  

CARBONITE: Carbonite asserts that its centralized management solution and automated backup can compensate for limited in-house IT staff, as is the case for Edgartown, Mass. The company also serves the K-12 education market. HQ: Boston, Massachusetts 

CENTURYLINK: Previously known as Savvis, CenturyLink has one of the largest global service networks, with public-sector cloud offerings that include IaaS and PaaS solutions. In 2013, CenturyLink (Savvis) won a three-year cloud hosting contract with the FCC, worth an estimated $1.1 million.  HQ: Monroe, Louisiana

CGI: Famously involved in the 2013 rollout of, CGI's heft as the fifth-largest independent IT services provider in the world is felt throughout the U.S. government marketplace. With authority to operate under GSA’s Blanket Purchase Agreement for its hosted infrastructure services, CGI is used by more than 180 public- and private-sector CIOs, as well as 50 federal agencies. HQ: Montreal, Quebec

CIENA: Known primarily for telecommunications networking, Ciena offers its customers a “Data Center Without Walls,” virtualizing data storage in the cloud. In addition, its encrypted virtual computing platforms and wide-area networks that focus on transparency and the security of sensitive data. HQ: Hanover, Maryland

CISCO: Networking goliath Cisco integrates cloud applications into its Unified Data Center and Cloud Intelligent Network, promising its customers consistent security polices and up-to-date threat intelligence. Beyond applications, the company's full spectrum of cloud offerings also includes infrastructure and services across private, public, hybrid and community clouds. Involved in many smart city deployments across the globe, New Mexico's IT Department has a private cloud that uses Cisco's Unified Computing System. 

CITRIX SYSTEMS: Virtualization powerhouse Citrix has a significant presence in the public sector, helping agencies manage mobility, telework and BYOD strategies, while satisfying government mandates. A recent partnership with the California Department of Justice has Citrix linking field-based law enforcement agents with criminal justice databases via mobile devices in a secure environment, while the North Carolina state Board of Elections uses XenApp for virtual server backup to ensure a seamless voting experience. HQ: Fort Lauderdale, Florida   

CONCURRENT TECHNOLOGIES CORP: Concurrent Technologies Corp., offers software-as-a-service, including virtual desktops, workspaces and app hosting, as well as mobile app technologies, including app development and content management. Customers include a variety of military-related agencies, such as the Office of Naval Research and the Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. HQ: Johnstown, Pennsylvania      

CSC: System integrator CSC offers multiple cloud service options, including its private cloud, CSC BizCloud for Government, which can operate either at an on-premises government data center or a CSC hosted data center. The company recently announced some upgrades to its big-data-platform-as-a-service offering, targeted to verticals in the public sector including health care and finance, which it promises can offer big data insights in less than 30 days.  HQ: Falls Church, Virginia 

DELL: Launched in 2013, the Dell Cloud for U.S. Government offers infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and SaaS cloud services, designed to allow easy transition to FedRAMP, FISMA and DIACAP (Department of Defense Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process)-approved environments. The company also offers an on-premises cloud delivery model, which it announced last February it will deploy for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. HQ: Plano, Texas

DELPHIX: Data virtualization company Delphix has private-sector clients like Facebook and Comcast, and is looking to make its mark on the public sector. Helping expedite the software application development process and speed migration to the cloud, the company expects government agencies will take advantage of its Compliance Engine, a recently released software tool that copies and masks sensitive data en route to its destination, helping clients address security and compliance concerns. HQ: Menlo Park, California 

DROPBOX: One of the first stand-alone cloud storage services in the market, Dropbox rolled out new features in July, including collaborative functions, security upgrades and full text search capabilities. The service is one option the GSA recommends for federal employees who telework. HQ: San Francisco, California

EMC: EMC cloud storage is aimed at meeting government's high-volume data-sharing needs, both within and across agencies. The multi-petabyte cloud storage solution EMC Atmos allows large-scale data assets to be "consolidated, managed, secured, stored and shared as a single entity," according to the company. EMC also builds cloud-based e-government platforms, like the one deployed in Qingdao, China, where the city benefits from the agility, scalability and disaster recovery of the cloud. HQ: Hopkinton, Massachusetts

ESRI: GIS provider Esri began making its ArcGIS technology available via Amazon Web Services GovCloud in 2012. The partnership offers “virtually unlimited computing power” and facilitates data sharing among government agencies and other users, the company says. For example, Salem, Ore., uses Esri's ArcGIS Online to support GIS staff and users in 11 city departments. HQ: Redlands, California

GENERAL DYNAMICS: General Dynamics Information Technology says its CloudBroker portal gives state and local agencies a single point of contact to procure, manage and integrate public, private and hybrid cloud services and resources. The company was selected in January as a cloud services broker by the state of Texas Department of Information Resources. General Dynamics also provides cloud solutions for a number of federal agencies including the Department of Defense. HQ: Fairfax, Virginia 

GOGRID: Infrastructure-as-a-service provider GoGrid offers cloud-based servers, storage and network capabilities. In addition, the company provides hosted big data services designed to let organizations easily launch analytics projects. Earlier this year, GoGrid announced its Orchestration Engine Service that lets users deploy applications across multiple clouds with the touch of a single button, the company says. HQ: San Francisco  

GOOGLE: Google Apps for Government, the global search engine’s cloud-based public-sector productivity suite, has taken hold in many government agencies, who cite cost, scalability and the company’s reputation for innovation as factors in their decision. Among the states in its portfolio are Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. The greatest number of Google Apps users in state and local government to date comes from Maryland, which made the switch earlier this year for its 54,000 employees. Local deployments include the city of Boston, which finished its migration in early 2014, and Omaha and Douglas County, Neb., which made the switch in a joint move affecting 5,000 employees across 70 departments. HQ: Mountain View, California  

GRANICUS: The Granicus Cloud Platform for government delivers hosted applications for transparency, citizen participation, legislation management and meeting efficiency. The company says it has 1,200 government clients, including the cities of Los Angeles and Austin, Texas. A newly launched app store cuts procurement cost and deployment time for government customers, the company says. HQ: San Francisco 

HP: In May, HP Enterprise Services launched a secure private cloud solution designed for public-sector agencies. The company describes its new HP Helion Managed Private Cloud for Public Sector as a "pre-engineered, pre-integrated, pre-automated, pre-tested private cloud" that can be deployed across a hybrid environment of data centers owned by governments, HP and commercial cloud providers. Customers include the U.S. Postal Service. HQ: Palo Alto, California  

IBM: IBM targets the federal market with its SoftLayer cloud infrastructure enhanced for FedRAMP and FISMA compliance. Big Blue also offers a suite of cloud solutions for the local and regional governments. In state government, the company is involved in a number of major initiatives, including a long-running contract — along with AT&T — to operate IT infrastructure in Georgia. Earlier this year, IBM won a $37 million contract to operate California’s CalCloud, and initiative to provide cloud services to state and local agencies through the state’s data center. HQ: Armonk, New York  

INFOR: Infor’s Lawson ERP suite is widely used in local government, and the company is expanding its cloud-based offerings. Earlier this year, the company announced Infor CloudSuite, a group of applications for specific industries — including public sector — that are available on the Amazon Web Services cloud. Infor’s cloud customers include Corpus Christi, Texas, which inked a deal for the hosted Lawson ERP suite last year. HQ: New York City  

INGRAM MICRO: Long-time technology wholesaler Ingram Micro acquired Canadian cloud services provider SoftCom in 2013. The company offers cloud infrastructure services, domain name management and Web hosting targeted at small to medium-sized customers. In addition, Ingram has a portfolio of cloud solutions to support cloud services brokers and cloud services providers.  HQ: Santa Ana, Calif. 

INSIGHT ENTERPRISES: Insight provides cloud-based email, collaboration, security and infrastructure for public agencies. The company also offers a range of services that help public-sector organizations transition to the cloud. HQ: Tempe, Arizona 

INTERMEDIA: Intermedia's Business Cloud offers hosted email, voice, file collaboration and identity management tools on a single platform for small to medium-size organizations. The company also provides cloud-based servers and Web hosting. HQ: Mountain View, California 

JOYENT: Joyent says its high-performance cloud computing infrastructure is designed to support real-time Web and mobile applications. Earlier this year, the company released software that lets users create private clouds using its infrastructure, adding to the firm's existing range of public-cloud services. HQ: San Francisco  

KRONOS: Kronos offers its popular workforce management software via the cloud. In May, the company announced that more than 11,000 organizations now run their workforce management solutions in the Kronos Cloud. In a procurement led by the Harford County (Md.) Public Schools, Kronos was awarded a contract in March from the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance,  a national purchasing cooperative that provides technology solutions to state and local government agencies. HQ: Chelmsford, Massachusetts   

LIAISON TECHNOLOGIES: Liaison Technologies provides cloud integration and data management for health care and other industries. Earlier this year, Liaison announced that EMR-Link, its cloud-based lab/EHR interoperability solution, had been updated to ease compliance with federal health-care IT requirements. HQ: Alpharetta, Georgia  

LOCKHEED MARTIN: Federal contracting giant Lockheed Martin won FedRAMP provisional approval — the program's most rigorous level of approval — last year to provide secure community cloud services to federal, state and local agencies. The company's SolaS Community Cloud is a secure, multi-tenant environment for government agencies and regulated industries. SolaS is used by a number of public agencies and energy/utility organizations, according to Lockheed Martin. HQ: Bethesda, Maryland 

LOGMEIN: LogMeIn provides cloud-based remote access, remote desktop and related services. In May the company announced a move to strengthen its offerings for the emerging Internet of Things market by acquiring Ionia Corp., a system integrator specializing in connected solutions. HQ: Boston, Massachusetts 

MICROSOFT:  Microsoft has built a large government customer base for its hosted email and collaboration platforms. In June, Los Angeles County announced that it would deploy Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 to more than 100,000 employees across 30 departments, marking one of the company’s biggest state and local government implementations for 2014. L.A. County joins a growing roster of high-profile Microsoft cloud clients, which also includes the states of Texas and New York, as well as the cities of Chicago and Seattle. HQ: Redmond, Washington  

NAVISITE: NaviSite, a Time Warner company, offers production-ready cloud computing infrastructure, complete with regularly evaluated U.S.-based data centers. The company was awarded a GSA Schedule contract in 2009 for managed hosting and infrastructure services. In addition, NaviSite's European subsidiary offers infrastructure, storage and desktop as a service through the UK government's G-Cloud III program. HQ: Andover, Massachusetts

NETAPP: NetApp provides public and private cloud-based data management and storage. The California Natural Resources Agency recently used NetApp technology to deploy a private cloud supporting 29 internal departments. Other public-sector customers include the Arizona Department of Economic Security and the city of Melrose, Mass. The company also offers services designed to help U.S. government agencies comply with the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative. HQ: Sunnyvale, California  

NETSUITE: NetSuite offers popular cloud-based ERP suites for large and mid-size organizations. The company also provides hosted analytics, CRM and e-commerce solutions. In June, NetSuite announced a partnership with TechSoup Global — an international network that works to improve technology for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) — designed to help nonprofits adopt the company's cloud business management applications. HQ: San Mateo, California  

NITC: The U.S. Department of Agriculture entered the cloud service market in 2013, announcing that its National Information Technology Center (NITC) would offer a range of PaaS and IaaS cloud services to other federal agency. The center's most popular cloud service offers 46 virtual guests to one virtual host, and its customers report numerous benefits, such as  enhanced and centralized security controls, improved energy conservation and reductions in hardware. HQ: Kansas City, Missouri  

NORTHROP GRUMMAN: Given Northrop Grumman’s experience in the intelligence community, the company entered the cloud service industry with a strong reputation. In 2012, Northrop Grumman was awarded a multimillion-dollar cybersecurity contract with the Maryland Procurement Office, and would deploy and sustain government cloud-based information for one year. HQ: Falls Church, Virginia  

ORACLE: While Oracle took some heat for its role in the troubled Oregon health insurance exchange, the company appears on solid ground in the cloud, promoting its status as the second-largest cloud software-as-a-service in the world, despite second-quarter earning analysts sounding the alarm. And in an effort to boost its customer service, the company recently announced that it will buy TOA Technologies, a cloud-based provider that manages the last mile of customer service. HQ: Redwood Shores, California 

RACKSPACE: Rackspace offers a set of cloud computing products, including Web application hosting or platform-as-a-service, cloud storage, virtual private servers, databases and monitoring. The company helps clients find the optimal combination of storage, network, computer and traffic management services. HQ: San Antonio, Texas

SALESFORCE: The fast-growing cloud-native firm recently was named America’s most innovative company by Forbes. The U.S. General Services Administration has used the Salesforce platform to develop more than 100 applications in the cloud, and the state of Colorado, the Texas Department of Information Resources, the New Jersey Transit agency, and the city and county of San Francisco have all deployed Salesforce. HQ: San Francisco, California  

SAP: While enterprise software giant SAP is working with governments around the world on big data projects, its HANA product powers applications that deliver real-time data and insights. In response to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s directive to create a central data-sharing and analysis platform for state-level agencies, the state purchased SAP HANA to do in-depth analytics, starting with analyzing infant mortality and child fatalities from various sources. HQ: Newtown Square, Pennsylvania  

SMARTCLOUD FOR GOVERNMENT: One of IBM’s multiple cloud endeavors, SmartCloud for Government is a private cloud solution that focuses on maximizing storage infrastructure capabilities. Though state and local government examples are hard to come by, the U.S. General Services Administration signed a contract with SmartCloud for Government for a new order management system; Vernon, British Columbia, uses a digital workspace solution that runs on the SmartCloud infrastructure; and Mairie de Clichy, France, deployed a centralized infrastructure with virtual desktops that includes SmartCloud. HQ: Armonk, New York 

SOFTLAYER: SoftLayer, an IBM company, launched its FedRAMP and FISMA-compliant government cloud data centers this June. These data centers around the world share a single management system that lets users control their solution — server, virtual server, storage device — in one spot that's accessible online and via mobile app.  HQ: Dallas, Texas  

SOFTWARE AG: Software AG launched its cloud offering in May 2013. Called Software AG Live, it is a package of tools that runs on either a customer's own setup of servers or Software AG's external cloud, or both. The company offers its cloud solution for justice and public safety, health and human services, public utilities, and 311 information systems. In mid-February 2014, Hillsborough County, Fla., implemented a component of Software AG Live called AgileApps, a situational application and case management system. HQ: Reston, Virginia  

SPRINT: In August, Sprint began providing direct sales and support for Google's cloud services, such as Gmail and Drive, and Google Apps for Business became available to its business customers. The company already has partnerships with Microsoft for Office 365 and Cisco’s collaboration service, and announced in January the addition of Pogoplug's unlimited cloud storage service. HQ: Overland Park, Kansas  

SYMANTEC: Symantec offers three solutions: security for your own cloud, whether public or private; direct use of services from Symantec's secure cloud; and the safe use of third-party cloud services. In Detroit, Wayne State University began centralizing its IT operations, and chose Symantec's NetBackup for data protection. In all, the university reclaimed $135,000 in drive space with its solution. HQ: Mountain View, California 

VERIZON TERREMARK: Verizon Terremark provides federal government agencies with enterprise cloud solutions that offers a Web-based management interface that offers customers command and control over their pool of computers, story and networks. The company’s Enterprise Cloud infrastructure is the host for, and the General Services Administration credits Terremark with saving the agency 50 percent more compared to the previous non-cloud solution. HQ: Miami, Florida

UNISYS: Unisys’ cloud computing program is well-known in the public sector; it develops and supports solutions for immigration and border patrol, security, health and human services, and justice and public safety. The company recently entered into a contract with the state of Pennsylvania to  consolidate seven data centers into one hybrid cloud, and won a $28 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to provide data center support.  HQ: Blue Bell, Pennsylvania  

VIRTACORE: Virtacore is a cloud services provider that specializes in virtual infrastructure that uses VMware, and offers a user interface that allows customers to move workloads between public and private cloud platforms. Customers can manage their virtual servers using a single dashboard that lets them create or delete virtual machines; manage all of their cloud resources, CPU, bandwidth, storage and disaster recovery tasks; and move servers without toggling back and forth between platforms. Virtacore's cloud solutions disaster recovery services are built on Cisco architecture.  HQ: Sterling, Virginia 

VIRTUSTREAM: Not yet widely adopted in the United States, Virtustream’s xStream cloud management solution is used by the British Transport Police — in anticipation of the 2012 Olympic Games, the agency underwent an IT audit that ultimately led to the implementation of server and desktop virtualization in conjunction with a secure private cloud. The National Institutes of Health and Johns Hopkins University also are Virtustream customers. And in June, xStream was selected by IBM to deliver SAP and SAP HANA globally via the SoftLayer cloud. HQ: Bethesda, Maryland

VMWARE: VMware's  private and hybrid cloud solutions help governments remain efficient, agile and reliable, while also maintaining clients' control over operations. Pennsylvania and Ohio state agencies used the company's IT-as-a-service cloud solution to help update existing networks, which the agencies say has increased storage capacity and productivity. HQ: Palo Alto, California 

WORKDAY: Workday’s cloud-based platform is geared toward human resources and finance, and several governments and universities have implemented its solution, including Yale and Carnegie Mellon universities; the city of Orlando, Fla.; Pierce County, Wash.; and the state of Nebraska. In early July, Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri was quoted by CNBC as saying that the company was actually four years ahead of legacy companies in recognizing cloud computing’s potential. HQ: Pleasanton, California 

XEROX: Xerox, a known provider of enterprise document services, also has cloud-based offerings for government that include hosted infrastructure and application management. The company provides cloud solutions to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Pennsylvania Attorney General, and in 2012, Xerox won an eight-year contract to consolidate Texas state data centers and move them into the cloud. HQ: Norwalk, Connecticut  

ZOHO: Zoho's 25-plus cloud apps — which include word processing, accounting and meeting hosting, to name a few — work together to increase employee collaboration and maximize productivity. Zoho has more than 10 million users, including staff at the University of California at Berkeley Extension; the Maryland Transit Administration; Edgartown, Mass.; and North Carolina's Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. HQ: Pleasanton, California
David Raths is a contributing writer for Government Technology magazine.