MCP Insights

Are Cloud-Based Solutions Right for Your Agency?

Posted on August 19, 2021 by Eric Caddy

A lot of people in the public safety/justice/public sector sectors are talking about cloud-based solutions these days. It is easy to understand why there is so much chatter because solutions that live in the cloud offer some impressive benefits. Here are just a few:

  • Cloud-based solutions typically offer best-of-breed technologies and services
  • Cloud-based solutions remove the maintenance and upgrade burden from the end user from a technology perspective
  • Cloud-based solutions often make it easier to share resources regionally or even broader compared with siloed, on-premises solutions
  • Cloud-based solutions typically offer enhanced resiliency and redundancy compared with on-premises solutions
  • Cloud-based solutions often make it easier for agencies to transfer operations to another location in “bug out” scenarios
  • Cloud-based solutions are easier and faster to scale —both up and down, based on the agency’s needs at any given juncture — compared with on-premises solutions
  • Cloud-based solutions typically are more secure, because providers often have greater information technology and cybersecurity resources and assets to draw upon
When considering whether to move operations into the cloud — 911 call-handling, computer-aided dispatch, and records management, for example — it is important to note that three unique cloud environments exist, as follows:
  • Native cloud—Also known as the public cloud, this is a multitenant environment in which a user’s data, applications and workflows are stored on the hosting organization’s servers that are accessed by numerous other users; the hosting organization also provides the required computing power.
  • Private cloud—This is a single-tenant environment in which the user’s data, applications and/or workflows are stored on a dedicated server hosted by a third party, typically a datacenter; in the case of public-safety and justice agencies, the datacenter often is owned and operated by the city or county in which the agency is located.
  • Hybrid cloud—As the name implies, this environment is a mixture of public and private cloud capabilities. Arguably the biggest advantage to this environment is the ability to failover to on-premises infrastructure if an event occurs that renders the public cloud inaccessible.

But while moving to the cloud might sound great, doing so might not be right for every public safety and justice agency. In fact, it won’t be right for every agency. To determine whether moving to the cloud is right for your agency, conducting a needs assessment should be an imperative. The key goal is to figure out whether moving to the cloud aligns with your agency’s mission(s). Better still, will moving to the cloud enhance the mission(s)? It might turn out that cloud-based solutions might not be the most appropriate solution for everything that involves your agency’s mission. Said another way, resist the temptation to move to the cloud just because everyone else seems to be doing so.

We invite you to listen in to our on-demand Justice Clearinghouse webinar, "Implementing and Supporting Your Applications in the Cloud," to learn about some of the roadblocks cloud-transitions often entail and present strategies for overcoming them. We also would welcome the opportunity to support your decision-making regarding whether a cloud migration is right for your agency, from conducting a needs assessment, to determining which cloud environment is right for your mission, to guiding a vendor-agnostic procurement, to crafting service-level agreements, to negotiating contracts. Please reach out.

Eric Caddy is MCP’s vice president – director of network and 911 services. He can be emailed at EricCaddy@MissionCriticalPartners.com.

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