For a Better Customer Experience, Look to the Cloud

The service-to-the-citizen movement is adding oomph to federal agencies’ adoption of cloud computing. And vice versa.

Note that the Obama-era cloud-first policy was reiterated in the Trump administration’s President’s Management Agenda. Maturation of the Federal and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, has somewhat simplified the process. A range of software-as-a-service products has received the FedRAMP seal of approval along with cloud infrastructure providers themselves.

Various analysts’ estimates put federal cloud spending in fiscal 2018 at about $6.5 billion, up a third from the year before. Bloomberg figures that the DOD accounts for roughly a third of federal cloud spending.

A well-planned cloud move can remove at least some of the infrastructure costs agencies entail with their own data centers. It can offload high-maintenance applications like e-mail and personal productivity tools.

Federal tech officials we have spoken to also say cloud has also advanced the way their organizations deploy services accessible through websites. That dovetails with the way the PMA builds on the e-government initiative dating to as early as the Clinton administration. The current version calls on agencies to improve digital services deployed to the public or to their business or other governmental constituents.

As we previously wrote in an earlier blog, the operative word for service these days is customer experience.

Let’s elaborate here. Under that construct, digital services are measured less than by how many transactions occur or how many people visit than by whether visitors accomplish what they logged on for in the first place. And also whether they’re able to do so using a mobile device as easily as in a desktop browser.

By using virtual machines in geographically disbursed clouds, agencies can enhance the customer experience in a number of ways:

• Reduced latency (relative to having the agency’s own data center as host) thanks to load balancing among clouds and even within a given cloud by adding virtual machines. This is a cloud version of content delivery networks.

• By the same token, cloud enables better service delivery to mobile devices, which continue to become the preferred way for people to access services.

• Support for agile development and rapid release of new and functionality. Clouds have proven to be more efficient for programming collaboration, where new applications can be compiled and deployed fast.

• A more efficient place to integrate multiple data sources. By virtue of the numerous services cloud providers offer beyond basic infrastructure and connectivity, and coupled with application programming interface strategies agencies are using for their datasets, agencies have in one place the basic building blocks of up-to-date digital services.

Cloud scalability and de-scalability also give agencies more flexible control over costs without sacrificing service. Few government digital services see demand equally in a 24-hour cycle or in any time period. Cloud lets agencies fine-tune capacity – and cloud fees – according to demand in a given period.

Pretty much any agency pursuing a revised digital service strategy is including cloud computing in its plans. For more information on how DLT is accelerating cloud computing in the public sector, visit