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What better way to begin 2015 than to look at the top 10 technology forecast for local governments! Jeff Friedman and I will be taking a deeper dive into several of the 2015 IDC Government Insights tech predictions for cities and counties. The first one that caught my attention was prediction No. 6:

Civic clouds

    : Nearly one-fourth of cities will be using shared cloud services for data management by 2018.

I had two reactions to this particular “trend.” First off, I usually try to avoid talking about the cloud alone as a trend – that’s because I like to think of the cloud as an enabler of other trends in city and county governments. For example, mobility is a huge trend in government today, but those solutions are usually made possible because of the cloud. The same can be said for social media and big data analytics or self-service BI. These trends, often viewed as doing the most to accelerate government innovation, are realized when governments embrace cloud technologies as part of their infrastructure.

My second reaction to the idea that nearly one-fourth of cities will be using shared cloud services by 2018 is WHY? Why would a city, or group of cities, want to build shared cloud services when Microsoft has just announced general availability of the Microsoft Cloud for Government?

Our Microsoft Government Cloud, with the upcoming availability of Dynamics CRM Online for Government, together with Office 365 and Microsoft Azure for Government provide the most complete cloud for government customers. A particular consideration for local governments: Azure Government includes the safeguards that have already received FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) provisional authority. That means it complies with all of the tough security and privacy certifications required by the federal government. And perhaps even more important for state and local governments are the many other certifications we support. For instance, the Microsoft Cloud for Government allows departments to meet the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) policies, which enable departments to connect to the FBI’s systems and securely access its data. At Microsoft, we understand this is a crucial priority for law enforcement and public safety agencies throughout the U.S. This is why we offer an industry-leading, enterprise-grade cloud platform that is CJIS-capable.It would be a massive undertaking – if not impossible – for local governments to develop cloud services that replicate Microsoft’s rigor and standards for security, privacy and trustworthy computing. And the bigger takeaway: You don’t have to! Microsoft already offers the most comprehensive cloud solution that’s fully compliant with the most important requirements to state and local government customers.

We’re very proud that customers in the public sector are already seeing the benefits of the Microsoft Cloud for Government, including the U.S. departments of Labor, and Health and Human Services, the U.S. Navy, the states of Texas and Alabama, and King County, Wash. We’re also delighted that over 100 partners are betting on the Microsoft Cloud for Government, as illustrated in this compelling graphic.

When it comes to the cloud, my hope –dare I say prediction?! – is that more than a quarter of U.S. cities continue the momentum by embracing the Microsoft Cloud for Government and realizing the value of greater productivity, agility and efficiency, with the assurance of secure, private and trustworthy computing. Let’s hope these cities collaborate on shared services to reduce redundancy and improve services, and build those services on an existing cloud infrastructure like the Microsoft Cloud for Government, rather than trying to build a new cloud infrastructure.

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