As an offshoot of my comment against using public cloud services such as Amazon, I believe that actually maintaining a cloud internally using open source tools would be of big benefit to different agencies. From a recent email I sent in response to the request for comments for the NYS Cloud Computing conference: ----- Gary A. Mort 121 Cedar Street Kingston, NY 12401 Web Engineer/Architect Gotham Informatics, http://www.gothaminformatics.com/ ...more »
As an offshoot of my comment against using public cloud services such as Amazon, I believe that actually maintaining a cloud internally using open source tools would be of big benefit to different agencies.
From a recent email I sent in response to the request for comments for the NYS Cloud Computing conference:
Gary A. Mort
121 Cedar Street
Kingston, NY 12401
Gotham Informatics, http://www.gothaminformatics.com/
Independent Specialist in LAMP programming, PHP/MySQL, Joomla! Implementation, Email Deliverability, and Internet Architecture
Amazon EC2 and S3 are services allowing organizations to "rent" computer time by the hour for peak needs. From heavy website usage beyond predictions[unemployment website for example] to extensive backend data processing that is performed seasonally[census figure updates, for example] - it allows organizations to dynamically control their use of computer resources without requiring permanent hardware purchases and support.
However, a detriment to usage of EC2/S3 in a government environment revolves around the fact that such systems are located on the internet. The transfer and storage of government data to private data centers through the internet is a security concern that raises the cost exponentially in the adoption of such processes.
There are other solutions for private enterprise to provide the same sort of functionality, however the big limitation here is that each one of these solutions can be extremely expensive AND requires custom programming for an interface that is only of use in a very niche/specific market - making it much more expensive to train employees in the use of it as they are either resistant to training[learning a skill that is only usable for one thing] or if they do master such training, the temptation is great to move into consulting where they can make significantly more money[and often for the very group that trained them!]. The alternative, to use external consultants, skips the training costs in favor of merely paying high consulting fees for simple modifications.
I recently learned of an open source project, Eucalyptus. http://www.eucalyptus.com/
This set of programs can be used to provide the same functionality as other cloud based, on demand, scalable data centers with the extremely important addition that the interface for departments using such a center is based on the Amazon EC2 and S3 API!
This is an extremely important point, as it means that first off, while external consulting expertise still comes at a high price, the price is orders of magnitudes less than what it costs to pay consultants of proprietary systems. Moreover, employee training is enthusiastically embraced as the skill-sets learned for this technology at the department level directly translate into marketable skills. Especially useful is that since there is a broad market for freelance, tele-commutable work in this field, instead of losing employees who master these skills, employees will likely continue to retain their jobs and add value to their department, while utilizing these skills in a freelance manner outside of work[also leading to enthusiastic embracing of flexible work weeks, where they can be fur-lowed one day a week and if they have dependability on that schedule, do their freelance work on those days].
On a purely local and personal note, in my own local region, there is available a good amount of space for establishing such a data center locally to service either the County or the State, or both! Tech City is ideally situated for this sort of project, http://www.techcity.net/ as it places employees and departments relatively close to Albany, yet somewhat segregated from day to day interruptions. It also places them within an easy commute of New York City, so it encourages a growth pattern from internal work to freelancing - as well as allowing one to draw on expertise located in the city with an easy commute up to the Kingston area.
I don't claim to have all the answers, but I do know that we have a great vision for the future, and establishing elastic cloud computing services not only provides long term cost savings to the government, but it encourages the growth and training of highly skilled technology companies and workers local to the region who would very much prefer to stay in the region if there is sufficient local employment to allow for that. I am sorry that I missed the conference on cloud computing earlier this month: http://www.cio.ny.gov./news/012810-3CloudComputing.htm while a big proponent of open source solutions in government[whether using Joomla! and Drupal for websites, or linux on servers] it was not until recently I learned of the ability to drive open, published, and well known API's into the cloud computing sphere which I feel is an ideal fit for government to lead and strengthen its local IT companies.
-Gary A. Mort