What the cloud can do for you

Listen to the whole interview:

What’s the importance of the cloud, really?

Today, the Federal Cloud Blog gets insight from two experts who have vast experience in the federal market.

They work for Information Builders, a company that specializes in business intelligence and software solutions.

Bill Lochten is their Director of Federal Sales and Michael Corcoran is their Chief Marketing Officer.

The following are excerpts from the interview (of which you can hear in full by clicking on the link above) regarding cloud computing.

Bill Lochten: I think that the idea, right now, of being able to put your solution of application in the cloud and allow for another organization to take responsibility for the actual hardware and software and infrastructure is really appealing for a lot of our government customers. . . . We’ve had great success within our practice of being able to help some of our government customers provide and be a conduit for information throughout the federal government.

When we look at long standing customers of Information Builders, like the USDA National Finance Center, where they’re providing information that’s specific around financial data to individual government agencies, in effect, they’re providing a shared service capability to their internal client — their internal customers within the federal government.

I think the cloud computing takes that, certainly, further — and, also, I think, allows for interesting collaboration with other software providers, as well.

Michael Corcoran: I think it’s fair to say that, whether it’s people looking at an individual application that might be in a hosted model — I actually also see a growing requirement for maybe some complex systems that would need to pull information from a variety of sources that might be internal within that particular department or agency.

It might go across information from different agencies, or it might even require some segment of information that might come out of the cloud or come out of some type of service bureau information. There’s a wealth of data that might be required to make some kinds of decisions.

We’ve seen, in the areas of things like security or law enforcement, some system requirements that might require something as simple as weather patterns that might help a police officer or somebody make a better decision abou9t what kind of crime might occur today in a given area.

It’s a wealth of information coming from many, many different places. I think the cloud plays a role, both as a hosting platform for future applications and simplicity.

BL: We’re finding that, in both of our core solution areas — business intelligence and enterprise integration — that there are clearly defined requirements to be able to provide these kinds of services within the cloud computing environment.

We have definitely seen a very, very large investment in hosted applications — more in the Software-as-a-Service model, where it might be a single-tenant environment versus the true cloud of having multiple tenants use these applications.

We saw, certainly, the horizon growing for that for this requirement. And, certainly, you can make the case for lowering the cost of computing — for support, for infrastructure. I think it’s definitely an environment for the future where people are going to have expectations that very sophisticated applications and services can be easily accessible.

We’ve actually taken a lot of our core applications and placed them out in the cloud, starting with Amazon, to make sure that our technologies would run so that our customers could run their own production applications there. We’ve done that very successfully at this point.

MC: I think one of the things that’s helping us with our federal customers in particular in this whole conversation around the cloud and SaaS, {is that} we are platform and database agnostic.

So, for our government customers in particular, who find that hardware upgrades and revamping and refreshing the hardware and their platform and database choices, is not an unusual or rare occurrence.

They can feel comfortable with us being able to run their applications successfully, regardless of the database they choose or the platform they decide to run.

I think that gives them a level of comfort that they’re not going to be buying software that will be obsolete if they happen to make a decision to move away from one platform to another.

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