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Head in the Clouds – How One State Made the Move

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Head in the Clouds - How One State Made the Move

Cloud computing continues to rise, especially now among businesses and professionals. The very concept of being able to access documents, files, folders, music, pictures, and even videos without needing to be set in front of a computer is great, with many programs offering online access, as well as downloadable content for phones and computers.

Mobile technology especially is helping to add to this, with companies such as Google making it easier for users to access their information from their smartphones, laptops, and even tablets. The potential of being able to retrieve, work, and even play while on the go is huge; imagine businesses and companies being able to travel and still be able to log in to their desktops or work computers from out of state or even out of the country.

It’s not just the ideal and concepts of cloud computing that are attractive to businesses and individuals; government agencies are looking into using cloud computing in order to be a unified access point. In fact, one state has already taken the steps to implement an agency wide switch over to the popular Google Apps software. That state is Wyoming and just recently, governor Matt Mead cut the proverbial network cable, implementing the first ever state wide move to that of cloud computing in the United States.

According to the CIO, nearly one million dollars will be saved by the move, in which several different email servers like Exchange and Novell run in 13 different systems. The process took eight months to completely put into place, but the end result means that there is a unification of software thanks in part to Google’s own App program for government run agencies.

While Wyoming is the first state to put this in place, other states and their cities are looking at something similar. The city of Los Angeles, CA for instance has moved their systems over to that of Google, while Colorado has a voluntary sign up for use of Google Apps for their local and federal businesses and workers.

Some may wonder where this leads industry giant Microsoft, as well as those in the IT department that are used to working on physical equipment, such as servers and workstations. Not to be outdone, Microsoft has had web app software that was introduced around the time their Windows 7 operating system and Office 2010 software was release. The consideration here is in part to the open source that Google has; the software can be used on any computer, regardless of operating system, so that Mac and Linux users are able to work without needing to purchase Microsoft products.

IT departments themselves will need to change how they interact with this system. Technical staff will of course need to learn and be trained on the new software, which in turn means teaching and training employees in its uses. The thinking will need to change, especially for older members of the IT crowd.

Analysts suggest that smaller states, such as Wyoming, will find the integration of cloud computing easier than say larger states like California as a whole, mostly due to the cost and expensive of switching. The government version of Google Apps is available for $50 a year and includes Gmail, Talk, Calendar, and others.

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