Secure Applications & Cloud Communications

As we make our way through an often divisive, combative and confusing election season here in the U.S., one thing that everybody seems to agree on – regardless of party affiliation – is security.

Life can be scary, and we count on our government agencies to protect us – whether from terrorist attacks or natural disasters. Real time communications have never been more important, and like many security-conscious, large and complex enterprises whose operations depend on reliable real time communications, federal, national and local government agencies are now challenged to reduce costs and improve service – because big budgets can be scary too.

As more and more agencies move the majority of their data computing to the cloud, what should they be aware of and plan for?

They can learn a lot from the vast majority of financial services, healthcare, education, transportation and energy companies who have moved data applications to private, public and hybrid cloud services, and today are taking the leap into cloud communications.

The opportunity to transform economics and customer service happens when voice, messaging, chat, contact centers, and web-based self-service via cloud-based platforms is implemented – and done so – securely.

Billions of taxpayer dollars are spent each year on real time communications networks – on information technology by government agencies. The US federal government, for example, is approximately $80 billion a year and a large portion of that goes to maintenance of overbuilt infrastructure that silted up over the last decade, when at one point the government operated over 1,000 data centers. Some experts have indicated that with the amount of money spent on maintenance of old equipment and software, the government could completely rebuild using a cloud approach using modern technologies which are continually improving today.

In the U.S., the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) is mandating a move to the cloud, with zero government-owned and operated data centers by 2018. Here are five governing principles, including economics, that government decision makers, whether at the federal, national or local levels, can refer to as they make their next move to the cloud – cloud communications, or Communications as a Service.

Security will always be of primary concern for government decision makers, particularly given all the recent hacks and attacks. With the right systems integration, security, privacy, intrusion detection, malware, and logging and reporting can be built into cloud communications as it can be with data cloud computing. What’s new and different with cloud communications is the requirement to secure voice, messaging and even social media conversations and many companies have built rock solid solutions enabling recording, voice analytics, and more.

Emergency response can be dramatically improved with the cloud including integration of mobile services including those embedded in police cars, EMT vehicles, military vehicles, and more. Command and control centers and dispatch operations are improving dramatically while saving costs by moving to cloud.

Cloud communications can contribute valuable applications for everything from legal listening, surveillance, tracking, and agency coordination when, for example, a terrorist cell is identified, or terrorist activities are captured via multi-channel and multi-media applications. Even at the local level, a community cloud can enable agencies to collaborate immediately, whether police, fire & rescue, schools, public venues, transportation hubs, arenas, malls and other places where innocent citizens gather.

To truly create change, governments must coordinate and collaborate around developing next generation platforms, and they themselves can leverage secure collaboration through the cloud to do so. Enterprise unified communications and business process automation increasingly enter the cloud discussion for needs in various federal agencies, and the consensus we are learning is that, in addition to cost containment, cloud communications must also provide much needed flexibility, reliability, and an expanded range of functionally to improve communications, government processes, and customer service for constituents. When these cloud communications services can be deployed on-demand, without sacrificing the stringent levels of security for personal data and privacy that mark our generation, everybody wins.

Keeping in mind important policies, including JTI certifications, appropriate layers of security, management and maintenance authority, and the ability to control everything through software – which is now possible with SDN approaches – it is possible within the next few years to make move to cloud communications, and make life better and safer for all.

I won’t get political – ever – in this blog – but it is SAFE to say it’s important to VOTE no matter who you support.

In a future post, I’ll talk about the Internet of Things and how the IoT is making communities and countries more secure than ever, with millions of sensors, cameras and security systems.

Andy