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Cloud-based file sharing solutions have become very popular and certainly a growing and significant part of day-to-day computing. It is easy to see why these services are attractive to state government users after using them in many facets of their personal life. With a wide variety of choices in the market, these solutions are easy to access, configure and use. They support multiple devices (especially mobile), and data in multiple formats. The most important consideration for state employee users – these file sharing services are free. Since the release of the 2012 NASCIO and Deloitte Cybersecurity Study, more security and policy questions have been raised on the use of free cloud services by states. In addition to the May 2012 Capitals in the Clouds IV guidance on rogue cloud users, states have continued to seek out leading practices on how to put the proper controls in place, meet security standards, craft acceptable use policies, and identify the open records and legal concerns regarding terms of service. This brief helps to provide real experience from Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on free cloud services.
Each year NASCIO conducts a survey of the state CIOs to identify and prioritize the top policy and technology issues facing state government. The top ten priorities are identified and used as input to NASCIO's programs, planning for conference sessions, and publications.
This brief presents an emphasis on the cultural and organizational aspects of cloud computing. "Cloud services" imply shared services. When agencies come together to share such a resource there will necessarily have to be an evaluation of the variance in security policies in place in the various partner agencies. Engaging external cloud services can be quite risky if such services have not been properly vetted by state security staff. Much education, awareness, and ongoing communication will be required to ensure state government employees are fully aware of the risks of external cloud services. The imperative for states is to stay connected and maintain the dialogue, sharing intentions and solutions, as state government moves forward with adoption of cloud services. Cloud is not the only solution or avenue for sharing resources. When it is the right solution, it must be employed with proper attention to the security aspects of cloud services, particularly with external cloud services.
Cloud computing will continue to be an invaluable resource for state and local governments in their efforts to rationalize and optimize computing resources. Cloud computing should be seen as an IT innovation that can support rationalization and optimization of business services as well as IT services. Due diligence prescribes the necessity of exploring and evaluating jurisdictional issues in order to ensure long term sustainability and growing adoption of collaborative government operations in state and local government.