The U.S. Census is a really important process.
Done every 10 years, it’s what keeps the government informed about changes in population so that legislative representation can be adjusted, among other goals. It’s what determines how many Congressional reps Vermont should have versus, let’s say, California.
So, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the Census this time around used cloud technology to gain efficiencies and produce better information. In an article in Network World, the U.S. Census bureau praised the cloud for helping it save a serious chunk of change: $2 million annually. The Bureau used both SaaS and IaaS applications to ensure that accurate data was collected.
According to an article I read, the Bureau considers its cloud approach the most cost-effective and efficient way to meet the requirements of the survey. “We’ve gone from a model where we had one application on one server,” said Brian McGrath, CIO for the Census. “Now we’ve got hundreds of guests in our virtual farms and we are realizing significant savings of $2 million a year because we’ve compressed down our hardware footprint,” he said.
McGrath added: “There are still some concerns about the security in the public cloud. I have every confidence that those will work out in the coming years.” (How did I know that line was coming?)
It’s great to see such an important civic project using the cloud and profiting from it. I know that other government agencies, as well as private firms, will be inspired by the Bureau’s use of publicly hosted data — despite some security concerns. More companies will join the cloud bandwagon. And enterprises can take comfort in knowing that they have 24/7 cloud monitoring to stand behind them and help protect their data and apps.