Implementing Cloud Computing Within the Public Sector
Cloud computing is a growing phenomenon that has caught the interest of many organizations and individuals across the globe. This phenomenon, as defined by Mel & Grance (2011), is a model for allowing universal, convenient, and on-demand network access across to a shared pool of configurable computing resources. The services offered by cloud computing stores data in cloud servers and makes these data available through the use of internet facilities. The increasing complexity of computing environments (Choi & Lee, 2015) encourages organizations and individuals to consider cloud computing. It also provides the possibility of reshaping how organizations effectively utilize their computing resources.
Public sector organizations utilize various forms of cloud services such as google, email, and cloud backup. Some of the benefits these organizations achieve from the cloud services include cost reduction, increased storage, mechanization, and flexibility. On the other hand, some of the challenge or concerns organizations encounter are security issues, lack of expertise and resources, and governance and control of the servers and services.
This paper presents a methodical literature review on the challenges and opportunities of implementing cloud computing within the public sector. This is accomplished by reviewing eight articles published about cloud computing within public sector organizations. In spite of its appealing benefits for organizations, cloud computing raises serious technical, economic, ethical, legal, and managerial issues (El-Gazzar, 2014).
Overview of Articles
A research based on data from 200,000 users at government organizations in the Untied States and Canada revealed that an average public sector organization uses 721 cloud services (Skyhigh, 2015). According to Erben (2012) as cited in Maresova & Kacetl (2015), public institutions including educational institutions are increasingly turning to rapidly evolving technologies and cloud computing to satisfy their objectives. They also take advantage of new opportunities and cost savings, flexibility, and always-available services.
Oredo & Njihia (2014) considers the concept of cloud computing and its disambiguation as one that is still evolving. Jones et al. (2017) posits that cloud computing platforms offer an operational model that can digitally combine geographically remote data centers into a common infrastructure, providing a prime gateway to government related services and data. Cloud computing is in fact a set of standardized IT capacities that are accessible via the internet through self-service principles (Maresova & Kacetl (2015). Choi & Lee (2015) noted that with cloud computing, information is processed, stored, sent, and deleted in the form of data, and represents the status of tasks in the organization.
Russell et al. (2009) underscores the importance of governments carefully evaluating the process involved in, and adopting, cloud computing. This paper by Russel et al. (2009), provides a high-level overview of the cloud computing processes. Some of the key benefits and challenges of these processes to governments were also presented, as well as the steps that could be taken towards the adoption process. Oredo & Njihia (2014) posits that while extant literature focuses mainly on the affordance and challenges of cloud computing, their research conducted addressed how organizations can identify their own challenges. This literature goes on to put forward suggestions as to how these challenges could be overcome through the development of new competencies.
The emergence of cloud computing technology has opened up new possibilities for many governments (Sallehudin et al., 2015). It is one of the most recent technological innovations and focuses on the idea of sharing, combining and regulating resources in a centralized setting. Sallehudin et al. (2015) further posits that governments such as the United States of America, Japan and United Kingdom have used cloud computing to successfully transform their operations and that other governments across Europe and Asia are benefiting from the phenomenon. For governments, the value proposition of the cloud is especially appealing, given both changing demands for IT and challenging economic conditions (Wyld, 2010).
According to the Digital Britain Report of 2009, the government’s impact on the digital economy goes way beyond its role as a policy maker (Wyld, 2010). Rather, governments can use their positions as consumers of IT services to boost their standards. Sallehudin et al. (2015) acknowledges that cloud computing technology is of significant relevance for many domains of e-government. In the public sector, government entities face a different set of rules and higher scrutiny when it comes to data security and budgeting (Zhao et al., 2013). The topic of cloud computing adoptions in the public sector was explored by Zhao et al. (2013) and some guidelines that governments could use when considering the utilization of cloud services was made.
The eight articles provided information related to cloud computing and its challenges and opportunities of implementation within the public sector. The following presents a synopsis and evaluation of each article and their relevance to the research:
Analysis of Articles
Choi & Lee (2015) posited that with cloud computing in public organizations, there were different concerns that were hindering their attempts at implementing cloud computing. One of the main challenges highlighted is that of security issues. Hence, a solution was proposed for addressing this security issue within public sector organizations. A methodology that was centered on security management using a Delphi and a case study approach was embarked upon as a measure to validate the usefulness of the methodology. The advantages of the methodology used by Choi & Lee (2015) is that it makes it possible to establish the appropriate security level of the security controls in the public sector. It makes it easier for cloud system users to identify their security responsibility and as well as providing a quicker mechanism for retrieval of data sources.
A criticism of this methodology is that in order to determine the appropriate level of security controls needed, a risk analysis and other technical consulting have to be undertaken. Given the complex nature of these analyses, it can be a challenging procedure. Another criticism is that this research used only managers from one organization to validate the methodology for the security management for cloud systems. This source is of relevance to the research in that it provides an in-depth analysis ininto security management and how it can be used to addressing cloud-based challenges in the public sector.
Jones et al. (2017) focused on the risks and rewards of cloud computing in the United Kingdom public sector. The authors used a case study approach, with the focus on three organizations, to investigate the implementation of cloud computing in the public sector and for gathering information on the topic. By using the case studies, the authors were able to extrapolate perceived rewards and risks factors which were mapped against the literature so that emergent factors could be identified (Jones et al., 2017).
The findings of the research are that there were differing outcomes for each case study and some of the findings are that there were improved information management, better work practices and lack of data ownership to the organization. A criticism of this study is that a cost-benefit analysis should have been conducted in order for the organization to be informed of all the financial information pertaining to the system.
Maresova & Kacetl (2015) focused this article on stipulating when cloud computing should be deployed in the public sector of EU countries. The methodology utilized was a case study that was conducted at a high school as well as document analysis where information was obtained from a database, Eurostat. Pertinent data for the case study was obtained from in-depth interview conducted with a school representative.
According to the findings, the benefits to be accrued for this implementation was time and financial savings while one of the concerns was that of having internet connectivity issues. A criticism of this article is that is used only one representative against which to conduct the research. Hence, the findings cannot be generalized to public sectors across the UK or other public sector organizations.
Oredo & Njihia (2014) gave an insignt into the challenges of cloud computing in businesses. This article gave a general idea as to how cloud-based challenges can be identified and minimized within orgnaizations. The research was conducted using extensive review of academic publications and professional literature on cloud computing (Oredo & Njihia, 2014). Some of the challenges identified were security and privacy, compliance and regulatory ambiguity and cultural resistance. One benefits of this article is that it provided a new perspective for those researching cloud computing. However, a critical analysis of the overall process is that, the competnecies outlined in the article are theoretical in nature and lacked experiential research that would seek to validate the findings.
Russell et al. (2009) sought to provide a guide towards identifying the opportunities and advantages of cloud computing in the public sector as well as how to evaluate and adopt said phenomenon. Some of the challenges to this implementation were also addressed and included data privacy issues and security risks for data stored in servers. The information presented in this paper is important since it provides credible information pertaining to the issue of cloud computing in the public sector. Also, the authors sought to outline some vital steps that are required in the preparation for the adoption of cloud computing. While this paper had credible sources, a study was not done with a control group and neither was the study based on academic research.
Sallehudin et al. (2015) provided an analysis on the factors that influence the adoption of cloud computing in the Malaysian public sector. The article suggested that there are both benefits and challenges of implementing cloud-based systems. One of the advantages was that of cost reduction, while one of the main challenges was the low rate of adopting to cloud computing. The authors used a conceptual model for the research methodology. For this purpose, the theory of Diffusion of Innovation and Information Technology personnel characteristics were used as a means of determining the factors which influences cloud computing adoption in the Malaysian public sector.
The findings of this research were limited to the Malaysian public sector. Hence, it cannot be generalized to other countries or other public sectors organizations. Also, the sampling population was restricted to only individuals who had internet access, thereby being an inhibiting factor to the research process.
Wyld (2010). This article utilized the six-stop ‘cloud migration strategy’ in illustrating why public sector organizations should implement cloud computing. The author also highlighted eight elements that are needed for cloud implementation in both private and public organizations. The strengths of cloud implementation were highlighted and included new capability to communicate and collaborate and the possibility of the public sector becoming a leader in the computing revolution. The authors sought to outline the strengths and advantages of cloud implementation but failed to outline any of the challenges it could potentially pose to its consumers.
Zhao et al. (2013) provided information pertaining to the adoption of cloud-based services in the public sector. An outline was also provided with a list of guidelines that governments could use in making decisions related to the implementation of cloud services. The authors used a system adoption model as the methodology in the article. This model utilized four stages, namely assessment, planning, action and renewal stages.
Based on the findings of this research, the challenges of this research were realized and one such challenge was that of cultural differences. One limitation of the study was that only two case studies were utilized as such, the findings of the research cannot be generalized to other populations within the public sector. After evaluating the case, it is recommended that more case studies be analyzed in future research, in order to obtain better and more generalized research findings.
Like any other technological innovation, cloud computing has its challenges and benefits. The benefits associated with cloud computing can help in increasing an organization’s efficiency and level of functionality. However, in the absence of being adequately knowledgeable about how to utilize these technologies, it can prove to be rather harmful to individuals and organizations.
In conducting an analysis of the challenges and opportunities of implementing cloud computing within the public sector information obtained suggested that there are numerous challenges and opportunities that can arise. Some of the challenges include security issues, lack of expertise and resources, governance and control, data privacy issues and cultural differences. The opportunities include cost reduction, increases storage, mechanization and flexibility. The research conducted for the eight articles presented above suggests that while some form of research was done to obtain desired information some of the research was limited.
Mention ought to be made of the fact that there is a gap in the population for the research study in that, a limited number of individuals and public sector organizations were involved in all the research studies that took place for the various articles. Given that the research was not carried out across a wide cross section of the public sector, it does not result in giving a fair representation of the sector. Hence, the findings cannot be generalized.
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