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GCN : January 2013
CLOUD CASE STUDY 28 GCN JANUARY 2013 • GCN.COM and recoverability requirements of those types of applications might not be applicable to the full breadth of GIS processing. As a result, this environment could drive up GIS processing and data storage costs. However, the use of properly tailored cloud services could avoid unnecessary processes and improve cost efficiency. "With any new technology, you dip your toe in first," Trenbeath said. "We will start slow with GIS, then some general hosting, and move more aggressively as it fits." Trenbeath couldn't say just yet what type of GIS data Montana would put in the cloud. "If I were to guess, I would say we would look at the delivery of Web services to the public outside of the state," he said, giving access to property information via the cloud. The state has a comprehensive database of property ownership and that information is provided publicly now. "I can see that [kind of data] certainly as a candidate to move to the cloud. Would we move the data out there too? I don't know yet," Trenbeath said. A lot depends on Internet connections and network delivery for Montana, which is largely a rural state with limited high-speed Internet connections. "Our pipes are not as huge as other places. As you send terabytes of files, we fill up our [Internet connections] quickly." The cost of Internet connections is typically not a part of cloud hosting, Trenbeath said. So if an agency is passing big data over those connections, you have to take into consideration costs be- yond the cloud costs, too. Some tasks might be better suited for the state's data center. Sharing computing resources with other states and jurisdictions in the cloud would appear to be an excellent opportunity not only to share services, but also data with other states. But there may be some limitations for sharing GIS data with other states, Trenbeath said. "We are always looking for opportunities to share data where appropriate," he said. However, part of the nature of GIS is it is location-based. The only place you look to share data is around the state borders. Utah officials probably wouldn't care what Hel- ena, Montana, looks like in the center of the state. But Montana's border with Idaho would be of interest to Idaho officials if a forest fire in Montana is creeping over the border into Idaho, he said. Trenbeath said he could see sharing applications such as back- up and recovery. "We are certainly looking at doing that whether it is in the cloud or in our data centers," he acknowledged. The state has adopted a hybrid approach of hosting applications within its own data center and, where appropriate, moving others to the cloud. Rather than sharing GIS data, Montana could share applications such as the one used to deliver the state's property ownership information. The sharing of applications, resources and services is the wave of the future, saving each state money and time, he said. Demand has gone up, and citizens are expecting their governments to do more. "We can't deliver all of that at a reasonable cost all by our- selves," Trenbeath said. Bob Woolley, Utah's chief technical architect agreed. "You have to collaborate," he said, and added that sharing resources lets states leverage expertise in areas where one state might be stron- ger than another. • SPONSORED BY VERIZON WIRELESS SCAN THIS QR CODE with your smartphone for the full research report TOPICS INCLUDE: Digital government: A boon for information sharing? DOD lays the foundation for better sharing Justice program emerges as model for info sharing ID management: A promising new development Time to get serious about information management To learn more, visit: www.gcn.com/InformationSharing2 Information Sharing Special Report