Importance of cloud to state IT shops only to increase, experts say

While not all stateinformation technology departments have been quick to movetheir operations to cloud-hosted services,the importance of cloud in the future of state information technology will only increase, according to a panel of state IT thought leaders on the second episode of StateScoops Priorities podcast.

In fact, in 2011, cloud services appeared for the first time on the top 10 priorities released annually by the National Association of Chief Information Officers. Since then, cloud has never fallen belowNo. 5 on thelistand has been at No. 2 for the past two years. But despite clouds importance in the minds of state CIOs, not allagencies are rushing to move everything to the cloud.

Agencies are moving to cloud where it makes sense, and holding off where it doesnt,according toFloridaCIOJason Allison.

Cloud has been sold as this wonderful panacea, and it can be an absolutely great tool if you have the certain environments where its called for and it can be utilized, Florida CIO Jason Allison said on Priorities. Theres a lot of areas where it might not necessarily be the best thing for a government agency, so we find ourselves educating [on the business decisions around cloud] very heavily.

BothAllisonand California CIOCarlos Ramos,said they and other CIOsstates were increasingly becomingbrokers of cloud services for other government agencies and public sector entities within their state.

Industry experts from Red Hat and Cisco agreed that as time goes on, the prevalence of cloud services in state government will only increase, and states will continue to expand their service offerings in as-a-service technologies because of the opportunities cloud computing presents.

Weve been talking about this journey to cloud which started in the virtualization and consolidation phase, and believe it or not, some of our states are still going through that, Dan Kent, U.S. public sector chief technology officer and director of solutions at Cisco, said on Priorities. I would say every state Ive talked to has an interest. Theyre somewhere in that journey.

On the podcast:

  • Carlos Ramos, chief information officer, California
  • Jason Allison, chief information officer, Florida
  • Dan Kent, U.S. public sector chief technology officer and director of solutions, Cisco
  • David Egts, U.S. public sector chief technologist, Red Hat

Things to listen for:

  • When Floridas IT agency, the Agency for State Technology, was formed in 2014, Allison and his team were charged with bringing together two state data centers and severalother agency state sub-data centers. Forthis consolidation, Florida launched aninternal cloud to helpmigrate the data.
  • States are increasingly interested in hybrid clouds a mix between public and private cloud services as a way to meld some legacy on-premise solutions with the expanded capability of cloud services, according to Ciscos Kent.
  • In California, Ramos expectsstates cloud offering, dubbed CalCloud, to continue to mature.CalCloud provides state agencies and other public sector entities withservices like Office 365 and other as-a-service products. By standardizingof these services, Ramos expects to create a virtual consolidation of the services that state agencies use.
  • California also recently launched an innovation lab in CalCloud allowing departments to work with open source products and technologies to evaluate them for use in their agencies as a part of its new Office of Innovation and Engagement, Ramos said.
  • The biggest demand around cloud services right now comes through platform-as-a-service products, Egts said. PaaS technologies allow states to have a standard platform to roll out applications in a uniform basis.

Priorities is StateScoops monthly podcast that examines the leading strategies, technologies and challenges that state CIOs expect to face this year.This episode of Priorities was sponsored by Cisco and Red Hat.