Worldwide, IT departments are being forced to do more with less, creating extreme pressure on legacy in-house hardware and software systems – all of which often needed to be maintained and supported on a 24/7 basis by over-burdened IT administrators and associated programming staff.
This issue extends into local government, including the UK, where authorities are operating on reduced budgets while striving to improve citizen services. In this area IT leaders are faced with massive amounts of offline paperwork and complex workflow environments, which limit their ability to respond effectively in other areas.
This “less than optimal” IT environment is a perfect place to inject cloud computing platforms into the mix by leveraging managed cloud hosting services from stable and mature provider.
For instance, the Torbay Council tried out Windows Azure to “cloud-i-fy” its paper/form environment in an effort to minimize council costs while delivering services faster than before.
“In this flexible environment, IEG4 meets government requirements and boosts growth and revenues. Torbay Council saves approximately £15,213 (U.S. $25,000) annually because it no longer has to print paper forms,” said Torbay Council.
The decision to leverage cloud-based operating systems residing in remote hosting datacentres, allowed IT administrators and programmers to easily move code to the cloud without compromising look-and-feel or functionality for web-based screens associated with form management.
“The system also accommodates citizens who don’t have Internet access or are unable to visit a council office. In such cases, council staff members visit the individuals’ residences and gather data in-person. Staff members use laptop or tablet PCs that contain a local version of the form and an encrypted database. Once connected to the network, data is sent to Windows Azure for processing.”
Similar solutions are being deployed for Virtual Internet customers using a range of cloud-office functionality including SharePoint and Hosted Exchanged. Virtual hosted desktops are also proving popular along with enticing features for ISVs who wish to test applications in cloud sandboxes.
IT leaders are attracted to these managed cloud services because there is no upfront infrastructure investment while at the same time their internal teams can automate service management to protect customers from hardware failures and routine maintenance. These benefits enabled the Torbay Council to achieve a return on investment in online forms in less than 12 months.
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