Nobody said migrating to the cloud would be easy. Like all good things, a conversion to enterprise cloud computing takes time and patience. With the huge range of enterprises taking to the cloud these days, the time it takes for that transition to happen varies on an individual basis. For tech-oriented companies, the move can be fast and painless. But for other sectors that have long relied on records stored outside of the cloud – including government – making the switch to a cloud service provider can come with some baggage.

Learning how to efficiently digitize records to maximize cloud experience
Ever since the Obama administration encouraged the use of cloud computing when possible, government agencies have been eyeing the enterprise cloud more closely, according to InformationWeek contributor Richard Walker. The problem, however, is that many of the agencies looking to make the conversion have not taken the steps necessary to prepare for the change and accommodate digital records. However, such preparation is not only advantageous but also required. An August 2012 memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget set two mandates into place: first, that electronic records of any kind will be stored exclusively electronically by 2019, and second, that by 2016, federal email records are to be retained solely in “an accessible electronic format.”

The memorandum is part of a broader government push to move the federal government firmly into the 21st century as far as records keeping. Since so many other successful enterprises function smoothly in the cloud, why can’t the federal government?

The government is absolutely right to ask that question. After all, the enterprise cloud does stand to provide innumerable benefits for government agencies across the board – as long as the proper steps are followed in migrating. For any agency involved in records keeping – and that is the vast majority – part of the preparation for a cloud conversion is a well-conceived plan for the impact it will have on files. If such a plan is not made in advance of a cloud shift, then records risk being scattered beyond organization walls, creating hassles for agencies down the road.

Because all government documents eventually end up with the National Archives and Records Association, NARA is helping agencies across the board tackle the challenges posed by digitizing records. As far as integrating digital records goes, NARA can claim itself as a personal success story, recently moving 3,000 users to the business cloud for email service. The shift may have appeared seamless, but it took years to plan for, according to former NARA lawyer Jason Baron.

“What NARA did, which is different from what anyone else has done as successfully, was to bake in records management as part of the cloud procurement,”

NARA officials expect that same degree of preparation on the part of federal agencies moving to the enterprise cloud.

The cloud is not a choice anymore
As a separate InformationWeek report points out, the question for organizations is not a matter of if to join the cloud, but instead how – and when. After all, it is only a matter of time before most every enterprise does business on that platform. Ultimately, the enterprise cloud is worth the work it takes to join.

“When people think about the cloud, the first issues that come to mind are security and privacy,” Baron said. These factors are particularly important for government agencies, which are often charged with housing some of the most privileged information out there.

With massive storage space, built-in mobility and easy navigability to boot, the cloud is truly the platform for business, whether that be government or enterprise.