We have classified the Cloud Services - but what about its Customers in the Public Sector?
Roughly, I could split ICT professionals that we meet into 4 major categories based on their attitude to the cloud:
- Believer/adopter. They have made the mental leap to the new delivery model, including the cloud part of it. They accept that they need to deliver services, not software, and all that this entails. They are prepared to look at the detail of each solution and make their own judgement regarding security model, compliance, support and other aspects. They tend to understand and control their organisation a lot more, have a lean, fully virtualised environment and understand the security complexities. They are interested in piloting, deployment and strategy. Having seen the gains from virtualisation, they know that these can only be repeated through Cloud.
- Cautious Believer. Again, these individuals are sold on the idea and firmly accept the argument towards flexibility in ICT. They also understand that they need to take steps early to reap the benefits. But, they are a little more cautious regarding the systems they are willing to try or consider appropriate. Typically they will stick to "green field" systems or new capabilities. They also see great value in understanding their costs and strategic impact. A variety of ICT estates fits into this category, and once they see the benefits through a pilot, they get a lot more ambitious.
- Passive Believer. This group consists of people who like the idea, but are waiting for a "killer app" or for someone to come and show them a picture that contains BOTH the business case, and a way to believable implement and support the solution. They are not willing to try anything until this happens. Alternatively, the ICT professional in question would love to do things, but thinks that there is no way to convince his or hers organisation, and as a result, it is difficult for them to commit resources. They may go for a project not directly aimed at replacing systems, but something non-strategic or political (like transparency or a system already externally hosted).
- Pessimist. This category is further split into people who don't like the idea (many reasons) and don't believe that it will happen, or that it will deliver real benefit, and people who think that ASP and mainframes already delivered the same things, and since gone the way of the dodo. etc... This group is very small, and with political agenda across all three main parties moving towards open systems and cloud, their position is quickly becoming untenable.
However, they join group number 3, who's numbers are swelling.
There are other groups that you may have spotted, so feel free to suggest them in comments.
My message to all 4 groups (although with the first two, I am preaching to the converted), is the following: Try things, get your strategy ready for the cloud (slice users differently, recharge differently, support differently), know your costs and understand usage patterns. These things are a good idea whatever happens with the cloud. Once you do, I am confident that you will see the opportunity yourself - when you do, get in touch!