State governments have their heads in the cloud

Across the country, states are increasingly adopting cloud services. According to a recent TechAmerica survey, the number of states with high investments in the cloud has increased 14 percent since last year. The number of states that utilize at least some cloud services has also increased 5 percent, with 73 percent of states employing the technology in some form and considering the use of other cloud services.

Delaware was the first state in the U.S. to use the cloud to store the data, applications and operating systems of government departments on centralized servers that can be accessed remotely by employees. The state moved its computer servers to a consolidated data center to create a virtual computing climate seven years ago. Now, Delaware is looking into utilizing a third-party service provider to handle its cloud computing infrastructure to increase ease-of-use and allow IT departments to focus on more business-critical processes.

States find savings in the cloud 
​California was also an early adopter of cloud technology, being one of the first states to adopt cloud computing for government agencies. The state has implemented a shared-services strategy called CalCloud that allows agencies to share resources and information among themselves and their constituents. The model used by California government departments allows the state to minimize upfront capital investment, as cloud services offer states increased computing power at a time when their IT budgets are shrinking.

Many states have turned to the use of cloud services in order to benefit from its cost savings. States have seen estimated savings of between 25 and 50 percent for their computing operations. The first year Delaware's cloud operations were fully functional, the state saved $5 million, according to Delaware's acting CIO William Hickox. The federal government's "cloud first" strategy has also helped states feel more comfortable about adopting cloud strategies.