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GCN : November 2013
The concept of shared services, in various forms, periodically surfaces in government --- with different technological underpin- nings and varying degrees of success. Shared services were common in the early days of commercial computing. Time sharing on mainframes became popular in the 1960s, when service bureaus offered the ability to rent access to expensive com- puting resources. But owning and operat- ing computers in-house eventually became the norm in the public sector. Agency- and application-specific systems proliferated. Over the past 30 years, government has Amid tight budgets, agencies are using the cloud to make services available BY JOHN MOORE 24 GCN NOVEMBER 2013 • GCN.COM THE NEW CASE FOR SHARED SERVICES made several attempts to encourage agen- cies to reverse course and share IT resourc- es, but enthusiasm for the idea has been less than overwhelming and the results have been predictably spotty. The key obstacles: agencies' desire to control their own IT des- tinies and a persistent belief that a shared service can't satisfy "unique" requirements. Today, cloud computing has reopened the discussion. The cloud model offers the ability to acquire processing capability, storage capacity and applications on the fly. As for economic impact, the cloud lets organizations avoid the upfront expense associated with traditional on-premise de- ployments as well as the ongoing costs of hardware maintenance and upgrades. The extraordinarily tight fiscal times also bolsters the argument for cloud-based shared services. Buying a service from a government or commercial cloud provider could prove cheaper than building one's own. But the question remains: Will the promise of the cloud and the pressure on budgets prove sufficiently compelling to boost shared services adoption? A number of local, state and federal agencies have launched cloud-based shared services in