Authored by Chad Jarvi

The COVID-19 pandemic is currently causing governments to re-think how their critical software applications are accessible and available to their employees and citizens.  As states and communities begin to reopen, the manner in which governments serve their residents will change. Cloud computing will be an integral part of the planning process.

What is cloud computing?

Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of software, data storage, processing power and more – over the Internet. Organizations can rent access to servers from a cloud service provider rather than owning their own servers and network infrastructure. These cloud service providers can range from local information technology (IT) companies to large organizations such as Microsoft or Amazon.

Advantages of cloud computing

Below are some of the advantages to utilizing cloud computing at your organization.

  • On-demand access – applications, data, etc. are accessible in the cloud from anywhere, whether you are working in the office or at home, as long as you have an internet connection
  • Share costs – cloud computing resources can be shared, spreading the cost of hardware across several organizations
  • Reduce costs – reduce IT costs as hardware and software are kept up-to-date by the cloud service provider
  • Improved business continuity – provide enhanced business continuity during natural disasters or times of crisis. Having your data in the cloud ensures it is backed up and protected in a secure and safe environment
  • Easily scalable – processing power and storage is easily scalable
  • Better data security – every organization is concerned about data breaches, ransomware and other security incidents. The cloud offers many advanced security features (authentication, encryption, etc.) to make sure your data is securely stored and transmitted over the Internet

Disadvantages of cloud computing

There are many more advantages than disadvantages. Nonetheless, there can be some drawbacks to switching to cloud computing, including the following.

  • Internet connectivity dependency – with cloud computing, there is an internet dependency. If you internet connection is not reliable or slow, cloud computing can lead to frustration
  • Loss of control – you will lose control of your data, so make sure to work with a cloud service provider you trust to be compliant and secure, both physically and online
  • Resolving technical issues – if you experience any issues, you will need to call your cloud service provider for technical help. Problems cannot be fixed in-house
  • Data accessibility – the ability to share access to data will be more difficult with cloud computing

When making the decision to move applications and data to the cloud, make sure you have done the appropriate planning. In addition, completing a thorough cost/benefit analysis is vital. The option to move to the cloud has been a choice many organizations have ignored for years. As our environment changes, though, this alternative is being considered much more as a viable option for many governments.

Baker Tilly’s technology team is prepared to assist state and local governments with cloud computing options. For more information, or to learn how a public sector specialist can help, contact our team.

U.S. Capitol Building lit up at night
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States’ reactions in a pandemic environment