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Modernization and Cloud Adoption: Which “as a Service” Model is Right for Your Government Entity?

Cloud computing is a major driver in your modernization journey. As state and local governments adopt cloud computing solutions, they have greater potential to realize their business goals, including program delivery enhancements, new digital services, and IT performance improvement. The most desired outcome is for the government to be more agile to implement new highly scalable technologies as they become more rapidly available without the constraint of capital debt.

But what is cloud computing? Cloud computing is a service-based solution that provides computing resources and/or software over the internet as a utility. Based on a pay-as-you-go model, cloud computing has no up-front expenditures because consumers basically rent the services they consume – the infrastructure, development platforms, and software.

According to a study conducted by the market research company Vanson Bourne, adopting cloud solutions resulted in a 19% average increase in process efficiency and a 15% reduction in IT spending. Elyon has observed that most government entities will gain critical added functionality instead of cost reduction. By leveraging cloud technology solutions, state and local government entities have the perfect opportunity to improve their agility posture in order to rapidly adapt to meet the evolving needs of the individuals they serve. Cloud computing has become widely adopted by state and local governments as government entities look for ways to reduce the cost of computing infrastructures, improve scalability, and ease the financial burden of system maintenance.

Your state or local government entity has decided to make the transition to cloud. However, you are not sure what route to take. The path to the cloud is not always clear cut. After you select a cloud service type, Elyon recommends that you develop an understanding of your business requirements and then inventory all your applications. You then need to determine how the cloud will fit into your business strategies and functions and select the appropriate cloud service model that will provide the most benefit for each application.

There are three primary cloud service model types: 

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) 
  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS) 
  3. Software as a Service (SaaS) 

Each cloud service model provides you with the opportunity to shift certain responsibilities to a cloud service provider. This shift will free up time and resources to focus on your agency’s or department’s business.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS, which is also described as “cloud services” or “managed infrastructure services” offers the compute, network, and storage resources that are needed to run a business. The self-service models are used to access, monitor, and manage remote data center infrastructures. As with traditional servers, you will have direct access to your servers and storage, but you will gain access to a much higher order of scalability. You will be able to outsource and build “virtual data centers” in the cloud and access many of the same technologies and resource capabilities of a traditional data center without having to invest in capacity planning or physical maintenance costs.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS is mainly a development environment that provides online platforms for developers to access and use to create software that is delivered over the internet. This platform increases the tools that are available to developers and enables them to develop new software faster. PaaS can also include middleware, database management, and operating systems and is a good choice if your agency or department develops a lot of proprietary software.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS provides software applications that run directly from a web browser and do not need to be installed or run on individual computers. The cloud runs a single instance of the software for each individual user. This is the most expensive platform because you pay for the software and the underlying infrastructure. The software applications are very easy to set up and begin using; however, SaaS is platform-independent and you have no control over the cloud-based infrastructure that the products run on. One of the most common and widely-used examples of SaaS is Office 365.

SaaS provides automatic updates. Meaning, you do not have to spend time managing updates, but you do not get to control the updates or decide when they occur. SaaS is a good choice if your department or agency uses a lot of commodity software, but would not be a good choice if your business requires a lot of custom, proprietary software.

The table below provides a high-level overview of each service model type. You can use this table to help decide what cloud service model is the best choice for each of your applications.

Cloud Computing Service Types | Elyon Strategies

Drinking Water as a Service

Spring water represents the traditional on-premises concept and you are responsible for locating, procuring, and managing all the resources. Well water represents IaaS where the vender has provided the water source by digging the well (infrastructure) and you are responsible for managing all the other services. City water represents PaaS where the vendor has provided the platform and underlying infrastructure and all you need to do is get a cup and turn on the faucet. Bottled water represents SaaS where the vendor has provided the platform, infrastructure, and services and all you have to do is buy the bottled water and drink it.

The following figure provides a visual illustration of Drinking Water as a Service for the three cloud service models.

Cloud Computing Service Types | Elyon Strategies

About Elyon

Elyon Enterprise Strategies, Inc. is a management consulting firm specializing in business design. Our purpose is to lessen executive burdens, increase organization order, and provide organizations with more hope and success while meeting human needs. We are each client’s most trusted advisor and inspire our clients to transform complexity into enterprise success.

Carl Engel
About the Author
Carl Engel
CEO, Chief Architect
Elyon Strategies
Carl Engel is a Business and IT visionary with 30+ years of experience including Health and Human Services, Revenue, Finance and Technology. Teaching advanced technology, architecture and framework courses on 4 continents.
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