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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The importance of being Ernest: with e-mail

I see it almost weekly now that some investigation or inquiry into a scandal or political wrongdoing relies more and more on email as evidence.

Either the emails can’t be found (for obvious reasons) or when they are found they illuminate a further chain of evidence that the guilty party can’t hide.  All in all it points to the importance of a public sector organization to properly manage and store email in accordance with legislative guidelines and record keeping principles.

In the past records management was viewed as a dull and lackluster practice of storing physical documents in the basement of the department.  However; in today’s world it only takes one leaked email of a politician to highlight record management’s importance.

Email is like so many new forms of information (such as instant messages, images, voice mail, social media messages, etc.) have been overlooked mostly as a formal record.  As I work with government departments around the world I have noticed that managing email as a record is becoming more and more prevalent.  The hard part is to manage it well.   Backup tapes or copies will not cut it; therefore proper classification and metadata is needed with a robust governance strategy.  Information Lifecycle Governance (ILG) becomes the means to the end to ensure that risk and security of information in email is managed effectively and efficiently.

ILG then begs a few questions.  Who will own the management of email at the end of the day? Who will communicate and enforce the governance rules to all users ? What will the file plan look like?  I have worked with many organizations on how they can effectively incorporate email into the their overall governance and information management strategy.

The federal team of IBM ECM worked on a pilot project with a US Military agency on automatically classifying email as a record.  I would encourage you to read the whitepaper on this project to see some interesting and eye opening capabilities in being to automate records declaration and management; such as storage savings and efficiency gains.

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