AWS Public Sector Blog

For Small Governments – The Cloud is Only as Big as You Want it to Be

Startups and small to midsized government agencies share many similarities – limited capital budgets, a pressure to meet deadlines and expectations, and a direct impact on people’s lives. With the AWS Cloud, startups like Lyft, Slack, and Thrive Market are able to be lean and agile and scale up and down quickly to respond to demand. If startups are able to use the cloud to minimize up-front capital costs, why shouldn’t any government agency—no matter the size?

With the successes startups have seen by building and scaling their services on AWS, government agencies too can bring the benefits of the cloud to citizens, while realizing numerous cost savings and efficiencies.

Invest in innovation, not infrastructure

Using the same model that startups use to maximize their initial capital, cities, counties, and localities are also turning to the cloud to solve some of the challenges facing governments today.

For example, the City of Asheville in North Carolina is no stranger to natural threats. Hurricane systems throughout the late summer and snowfall runoff in the spring leave the city under the constant threat of flooding. Hurricane Sandy led the city’s IT department to search for an offsite disaster recovery (DR) solution – a vital decision that had been put off due to the perceived cost and resource requirements of a cloud deployment.

The city used AWS to build an agile DR solution without the time, cost, and geographic risk of an on-premises data center. Without that capital expense, Asheville was able to reinvest resources toward continued testing of the DR system and expand functionality in asset management systems.

In addition to DR, governments have been turning to the cloud to lead public safety entities to cut down vital incident response time, to connect city transportation systems to operate at their most efficient, and to help build healthier communities with Health and Human Services.

Optimizing costs with AWS

One way that government differs from startups is that they have to adhere to strict annual budgets. With a devotion to making the most of taxpayer dollars, city, county, and local governments look to manage costs and still maintain the performance and capacity citizens require.

AWS allows these customers to control their spend by following a simple set of steps, such as:

  1. Right-sizing services to meet capacity needs at the lowest cost
  2. Saving when reserving instances for the year
  3. Using the Spot Market
  4. Monitoring and tracking service usage
  5. Using Cost Explorer to optimize savings

Through variable cost structure, scalability, and cost optimization tools, AWS has saved its customers over $350 million, not including the coast avoidance in items such as real estate and energy that would be incurred in an on-premises data center.

To learn more about how your city, county, or local government can realize the benefits of the cloud, visit