Cloud Computing issues for the long haul

Governments are beginning to experiment with Cloud computing, but unlike other industries they must deal with more regulations and policies. Governments of all sizes must be very stringent on their requirements for cloud providers. Namely, in-country or in-territory hosting security is a primary concern. Additionally, most governments want their employees at the same site as the cloud infrastructure to ensure that compliance and policies are being enforced. These are some of the short-term issues that must be addressed when using cloud for government purposes.

A few days ago, I read a blog that opined that as cloud computing becomes a commodity, all the major players (IBM included) will back out of the market. I disagree. Since IBM will provide many software services via the cloud that cannot be commoditized, I suspect that no such back-out will occur. Take for example Enterprise Content Management (ECM). One of the premises behind proper ECM is that information (documents, records, images, e-mail, etc.) must be organized in a way that ensures “find-ability” and “retention.” If done correctly through file plans, classification and taxonomy, cloud based ECM can help governments.

Furthermore, for government cloud use, a high degree of security and archiving practices must be implemented (e.g. DoD 5015 Chapters 2 and 4). In order to support a government department over time, Freedom of Information, Document Classification and De-Classification, and up to 500 year records management practices need a robust and dynamic ECM infrastructure. While the cloud services on a tablet or computer that back up your photos and email may become a commodity, the SLA agreements and the information governance practices in the government make this the least commoditized environment of cloud. Cloud computing has only just gotten started, and I encourage you to take a look at what IBM ECM is doing with our IBM Content Navigator UI and Cloud computing for the enterprise.

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