In the process of gathering information for our 2014 Keating Report on government budgets and spending, we queried Nina Seth, senior product marketing manager at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Accellion, on government IT in the cloud. The company provides mobile solutions to organizations to enable increased productivity while ensuring security and compliance. The firm provides private cloud solutions for secure file sharing.

Here are the views of Nina Seth.

Government Product News: Do you see more state and local governments moving to the cloud in 2014? Will moving to the cloud help governments economize on storage budgets, improve efficiencies, etc.?

Nina Seth: I do see government agencies continuing their move to cloud-based technologies in 2014 in order to improve IT flexibility, minimize costs and improve workforce efficiencies. Government agencies are definitely taking advantage of the U.S. Cloud First Policy.

With tight budgets, agencies across all levels of government need to ensure that they are getting the most effort out of the technology and employees alike. The flexibility that cloud technologies afford any employer, along with the security that private clouds ensure, make this type of technology a perfect fit for local agencies across the nation. With a private cloud, employees can work from any location, at any time, which improves worker productivity, but it does not introduce additional data security risks into the network.

GPN: Where do government IT operations fit in cloud technologies, including the private cloud?

NS: Currently, the majority of government agencies are putting their data on highly secure platforms, which operate as a private cloud. This can be done on-premise, in which a virtual appliance can be quickly deployed within the established network infrastructure of an agency, and employees can then access content remotely as if the data were stored in a public cloud. Private clouds can also be hosted where an external vendor hosts the data, but there is no co-mingling of data with any other company or agency, providing additional security above the offerings of a public cloud.

The key reason that government agencies are investing heavily in private clouds is the level of control they have over the information stored. With a public cloud, often a third-party vendor has access to encryption keys, or has some level of data access through their service-level agreements. This can cause agencies to be non-compliant with privacy rights regulations, and these requirements are pushing them toward the increased security of a private cloud.

GPN: Do you have any advice for government IT managers regarding cloud security in 2014?  

NS: My advice for managers looking to implement new cloud technologies would be, first and foremost, to look at private cloud solutions. Using a private cloud will ensure that federal data privacy regulations are met, such as offering auditing trails and government-approved encryption levels like FIPS 140-2 compliance, that provide the highest levels of security.

Next, my advice would be to choose a solution that integrates with already established infrastructure, such as DLP solutions or Microsoft SharePoint. Having products that seamlessly work together from end-to-end mean there are fewer steps for end users to take as they complete their daily activities. That means there are fewer opportunities for data breaches and data leaks to occur.

Thank you, Nina Seth.

This video shows how Accellion provides secure, real-time mobile access to files stored in SharePoint, Windows File Shares, and other Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems behind the corporate firewall, without a VPN.


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