What Cloud Mix are you?

A cloud solution for the public sector consists of different cloud types to make use of their main qualities.

mix-av-moln_1.jpgPublic operations have, like many others, a requirement to be more efficient. Not the least from an IT perspective. Though the IT operations in public organizations often have to fulfill special requirements when it comes to security, integrity, and availability. Those requirements must be filled for the operations, whether partly or in full, to make use of the efficiency gains the cloud services could bring.

At the same time the potential monetary gains are huge. If you calculate on a four-year period the savings potential is 21 percent on average, when an organization shifts from running their own management of the server infrastructure to an outsourcing supplier. Considering that the IT costs of all public operations in Sweden are 40 billion SEK in total, it is a valid point.

If only parts of or the complete IT operations are to be established in the cloud it will require a platform adapted for the organization’s specific needs. It should really be called “platforms”, since no single cloud architecture that fulfills all needs exists.

Public clouds have their own ideal usage areas, as do the private clouds. And then we have the hybrid clouds and the industry clouds. The trick is to make these clouds to work together and cooperate with intact availability, security, and efficiency.

At the same time you have to secure the integration between the public, private, and industry clouds. In some cases you must have access to everything, but for example not be able to move data from the private to the public cloud.

1. Public Clouds

As private persons we often get in touch with and use the public clouds. There are a rich variety of different suppliers and types of services. Most of us have come into contact with the services from Google, Microsoft, Apple, Dropbox, and Instagram, for example. It was a long time ago since a new business put a mail server under some poor employee’s desk.

The cloud is immediately the natural way to go. Even public operations use the public services.  When, for example, students in a school, used to various services in their private lives, need to save and share their work, they do it in the cloud by habit. And the schools must keep pace with them in this development.

When it comes to cloud storage in schools and other public operations, public services like Microsoft Live and Google Apps are always in focus. Neither the cost efficiency nor the security levels are in question here. But legal aspects and questions about integrity and personal information will soon enter the discussion. And unfortunately those questions often lead to complete condemnation of the services.

- Both Live and Apps could be used for schoolwork. Essays about Shakespeare seldom lead to any integrity problems. But when we begin collecting address information and send personal mails to each other in connection to this, we suddenly have a data register and a reason to look at the private cloud, says Martin Lundquist, sales manager at Tieto.

2. Private Clouds

The private cloud provides large scale and cost advantages compared to running your own operation. With standard solutions and exclusive access to and control of private data for each client, many of the integrity and security issues in the public cloud can be solved.

One advantage is that the wheel doesn’t have to be invented anew in the private cloud. Many different clients can use standard platforms; where each have their own separate instance.  Solutions made for e-mail or project cooperation, to take one example, are instantly available.

When it comes to the private cloud it is also sensible to be cautious. Depending on the operation, legislation might demand the storage of data and the production of services within the country’s borders. You have to check out the supplier’s architecture and ask the right questions. The standard answer that storage nodes are placed within the European Union have to be studied judiciously.

If storage within Sweden’s borders becomes a legal requisite, “within the EU” will not be enough. Data could also be stored in Sweden but be mirrored to another EU country for security reasons, but that won’t match the legal requisites in question, since data also are stored in another country.

3. Hybrid Clouds

Public clouds have their advantages, as well as the private ones. The conclusion must be that a combination of public and private clouds, in combination with existing infrastructure, is a winning concept. We call this hybrid clouds. Parts of this combination, the public part of the hybrid cloud, has a security level and functionality that the cloud supplier decides, and it will be difficult for the clients to have any influence on it. But the services are still filling important functions.

The private part of the hybrid cloud is, if the client requires, placed in EU or Sweden, depending on the services supplied. This secures that the operations stays within legal requirements and allows the client a higher level of influence regarding the functionality. A very important aspect is that the public and private parts, as well as the existing infrastructure, can function in concert without compromising the security.

4. Industry Clouds

So far almost all cloud services have been general standard services, directed at businesses, no matter which industry they operate in. Industry clouds are also populated with the latest applications for that specific industry. Industry clouds could for example be customized cloud services for banking and finance, for the forest industry and real estate, or for municipalities and public authorities.

The industry clouds use private and hybrid solutions and are developed based on the regulatory framework and demands of each industry.  This makes them less isolated and a part of a larger ecosystem where different actors can exchange information with other ecosystems. This can create new business models and opportunities for citizens, businesses, and the society.

While the public cloud gives all clients access to the same services and the private cloud gives one client access to just their own cloud, the industry cloud gives more than one client access to the services – more than one, but not everyone.

Customized industry clouds could let different system communicate with each other. The solutions are gathered under one umbrella, an ecosystem, linking organizations, both as creators and users. Gradually new applications are integrated in the industry clouds while the existing applications are developed concurrently with updates and upgrades.

The insight is that practically every municipality, county council, and every public authority need to use all the cloud types. What makes the resulting solution successful in the end is primarily not how good the services are on their own, but how they best can be combined and used in the right way for the right things, with the purpose to optimize for costs, security, and flexibility.

Do you want to take another step? Read Tieto’s guide to what the cloud can do for you.