Advantages and Pitfalls of Cloud Computing
- Cloud computing is a new and alternative delivery model for IT services which goes far beyond classic outsourcing.
- Cloud computing assessment
- Identifying data and services that can be migrated to the cloud
- CSC study with data classification
Cloud computing is a new and alternative delivery model for IT services which goes far beyond classic outsourcing. In this model, various services linked to data, infrastructure and applications are made available in a network, the so-called “cloud”. The user can select applications as needed, and is charged on a pay-per-use basis. The VDAB was the first major Belgian public sector organisation to see the opportunities cloud computing offered, after a cloud adoption assessment by CSC.
Lower Costs, Greater Flexibility
The cloud is a breakthrough as regards the management of infrastructure and licenses, and the cooperation with suppliers. Software licenses or CRM applications no longer need to be installed on individual PCs. They’re in the cloud, and the client only pays when using them. Data no longer needs to be stored locally, but is instead accessible on a much more powerful platform. The possibilities are endless.
The new model is also advantageous for providing services. As users are no longer bound to their internal structures and procurement processes, flexibility increases.
A Well-Considered Long-Term Plan
The VDAB is running an initial pilot project involving the migration of the group email solution to Google Enterprise mail, in the course of 2011.
The “.vdab” in the email address will remain, and the storage capacity of the mailboxes will become much greater: 25 gigabytes as opposed to 1-2 GB with shared services. And above all, it’s two to three times cheaper. The long-term plan includes several other projects. The ‘Guide to the Flemish Employment Market’ reporting tool – which contains a wealth of data on population, jobs and unemployment – will be made available via the cloud. The same will be done for training courses, enriched with multimedia applications. And these are just a few examples. The benefits are always the same: thanks to the enormous storage capacity, information is rapidly available and cheaper.
Working via the cloud does however imply that organisations have to hand certain data and applications over to third parties. Potential users fear that this may lead to lower security levels and greater risks in terms of confidentiality.
The CSC study with its data classification was crucial for identifying data and services that can be migrated to the cloud, and whether that is technically feasible within the organisation’s IT architecture. The detached data still needs to be integrated into the internal data centre.
Responsibility is also an important point for attention. Legally binding and robust commitments need to be put in place for services, service levels and support models in all areas. In the area of privacy, clear agreements with the cloud supplier are a must.
Lastly, good internal communication is crucial, bearing in mind that a major change in the way of working is involved.