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What to Look for in Government Cloud SolutionsTerm Paper

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Cloud Computing

Within this third part of the overall assignment arc for this class, the author of this report is completing the term paper part of the assignment within this document. The individual parts and sections addressed in this report will include a summary of the previously selected cloud computing providers, the missions of the organizations, the type of services those three vendors supply, the measures those vendors would likely implement if selected as this project's vendor, how these services could and should improve the flexibility of the firm and a compare and contrast of the providers. A conclusion, of course, will round up this report and there will be a selection made from the three providers. While each of the three vendors absolutely brings something strong to the proverbial table, there is one that is a clear favorite among the three.


As noted in earlier parts of this proposal, the three vendors up for selection are Yammer, Salesforce Chatter and Box. Before getting into the nuts and bolts of what these vendors offer and how they could fulfill and address the charter of this project, they will quickly be summarized. Yammer gives its users the ability to communicate and work together in groups that are organized for a project. This is true regardless of who is organizing it, all the way up to the President or other leader of the organization. The facets of the service can be used to connect to Petitions.org and show citizens how they can come together with new ideas in relation to government. There is also strong integration with notable Microsoft applications such as Skype and SharePoint, just to name two. The people that use the service can do so via multiple platforms including via mobile and on regular desktop or laptop computers. This integration and the amount of options available allow for new perspective when it comes to finding suitable and complete solutions to problems and situations that emerge.

The second option when it comes to cloud vendors is Salesforce Chatter. Chatter is portrayed as a way to share knowledge and link to content that can be either new or at least relevant and mundane to the situation or project at hand. The structure and setup of the service is situated in a way so that new and current information is at the ready rather than people having to search and sift through a mountain of outdated or prior information. This is important because users can get overwhelmed by software that is unwieldy and time-consuming to use and move through. When working to create or compile information for a project or endeavor, people can connect with each other and build upon the ideas that are in progress.

Finally, there is the service called Box. Box presents itself in a way that is similar to the others in that it allows for sharing and reviewing of information in a secure and timely manner. Box can be used to do things like present a completed project so that vendors, suppliers and partners of the firm using it can see what is presently in play so that things can move forward in a timely and positive way. Beyond that, the information presented on Box is protected by password access so that only authorized people can see the information. This aids in the protection of trade secrets and other confidential information. When it comes to the Executive Office of the President, this sort of information being handled would be commonplace and would be manifested in a number of different ways. At the same time, giving a voice to the electorate in a way that is easy to use and conducive to a strong democracy is also important.

When it comes to the analysis of the three vendors in play here, the ability to share, present and publish information is a common thread in all three. However, there are a few things that stand out in the presentations with two in particular being more notable than the third vendor. The first of the two things that should be pointed out is that Yammer has strong integration with pervasively used Microsoft products such as SharePoint and Skype. Even common voters and users, rather than just corporate types, use some version of Skype. Beyond that, the business productivity software known as Lync has become a "flavor" of Skype and it works in much the same way. The other layer of the proverbial onions that needs to be pointed out is the ability of password protection available for the Box solution. Indeed, there are things that involve the government sphere that need to be transparent and easy to access. However, the protection of user information and confidential information in general is a non-optional part of any cloud or other computing solution that is involved in the handling of confidential information, which a government initiative surely would be.

With all of this being said, the common thread of all three options is that they are all about sharing and compiling of information. However, there are some clear differences as well. As noted above, only one of the three makes it a point to mention integration with SharePoint and Skype, that being Yammer. Further, only one of three makes it a point to mention password protection and encryption, that being Box. To be sure, the use of encryption, password protection and other security measures would be very important in any sort of cloud-based solution or program. Since the application and system is always-online in nature, the security and safety of the information would be of paramount importance. Salesforce Chatter, to be fair, has its own huge plus-side in that it makes it a point to keep information timely, updated and easy to sort through. The other two programs do not mention that subject as explicitly and specifically as Salesforce Chatter and its associated traits. In short, all three have a huge selling point and it really comes down to whether selecting one of those three will end up with deficiencies that will have to be addressed via other means, vendors or systems.

As for the scholarly literature that can contribute to this discussion, the author of this report would point to a few sources that are extremely relevant to this matter. One subject that is particularly relevant right now is the general topic cloud computing security. Indeed, there are many scholars who are quite concerned. Some have gone so far as to call the perceived impending troubles as a "perfect storm." Many in the private sector go to great lengths to make secure and private systems because they have great incentive to brag about having strong security and a lack of security breaches (Nanavati, Colp, Aiello & Warfield, 2014). However, while the track record of private sector organizations is far from perfect, the government is far from having bragging rights. Whether it be the hack of the Office of Professional Management, the litany of information that has leaked on the WikiLeaks site and others, government data seems to be breached and disseminated against the wishes of officials and in violation of the law happens every day (Maschke, 2011). As for integration between cloud computing solutions and ubiquitous internet and computer-based applications already in place, firms like Microsoft are clearly at the forefront of this, along with many of the other historical heavyweights of the information technology sector. There are also some newcomers to the fray. Microsoft in particular has made up what is called a "hybrid cloud" that is composed of legacy computer-based applications and new cloud-based options (Anderson, 2014). As for cloud computing in the government sphere, this has been a little rocky within the international sphere in particular because the different nations of the world have somewhat to very different laws when it comes to the subject of cloud computing. These divergences exist with China, the European Union and the United States, just to name a few (Cheng, 2013). Perhaps this explains why some governments within those areas are not embracing the cloud as much as others. One example, at least perceived, would be the United Kingdom (Glick, 2012). For their part, the private sector has made it a point to ramp up operations and presence so as to allay concerns (Venkatraman, 2014).

In terms of which vendor should be selected, the author of this project proposal term report has decided that it shall be Yammer. The integration with Skype and SharePoint is needed too much to pass up. As for password protection and encryption, those things can be garnered and satisfied via other means if Yammer is unable to provide and/or it is not at the level that is needed. As for the ability to sort and prioritize data, any shortcomings with Yammer can be overcome through adept facilitation and planning skills from the project team and the end user management that will be in place when the service is online and fully functional after this project.



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