Any movement to the cloud is a chance to get things right. Whether agencies are settled in or venturing out on their cloud quest, now is the perfect opportunity to reevaluate how IT operates and how it can be improved.
“Take the opportunity to get your house in order,” Adam Clater, Senior Principal Architect for Red Hat’s Public Sector, said. Red Hat is a leader in open source development, which many agencies are looking to as they try to collaborate and grow in the cloud. GovLoop recently spoke with Clater about three ways agencies can make cloud journeys successful.
By adopting standardization, automation and containerization, agencies are flexible and adaptable for the road ahead, whether they’re crawling, walking or running to the cloud.
Early on, agencies need to beware of vendor lock-in. Contracts that have vendors hold data without a clear entry or exit strategy can have drastic impacts in the long run, as cloud providers send a clear economic signal to consumers with pricing models. By evaluating the difference between network ingress – bringing data in – and egress – taking your data out – charges, you can identify where their priorities are.
It’s always a good time to start standardizing systems on open standards and application programming interfaces (APIs). Using open source software, in which source code is made freely available, agencies can carry out infrastructure-as-code that exists universally, outside of vendors’ purview. That way, developers don’t have to start from scratch when agencies change cloud providers.
All systems can experience unscheduled down time, and quite often this is due to human error. Whether installing patches or conducting regular maintenance, one unintentional tweak can throw interconnected systems offline. But if all of this could be tested automatically, developers and operations teams could work toward bigger efficiencies without late-night blips.
Automation can run quality assurance checks before pushing software through to operations and automatically ensure version control in case of errors. In the cloud, automation also saves a significant amount of time and, therefore, money. If a server has to be accessed to run maintenance or monitor an application, it’s much more efficient to code these processes in advance so that they take a minimal amount of time to operate and can be turned off directly afterward. If your cloud strategy is simply a lift and shift of 24/7 workloads, Clater said, why not just get a managed services contract instead, which might be cheaper?
Thoughtfully automating workload deployment and life cycle is crucial to maximizing cloud investments.
Containerization is a key enabler of hybrid cloud strategies and, while a good idea to automate and standardize no matter what, it’s what truly taps into the potential of automation and standardization. Containerization is the packaging of all the resources needed for software development, operations and maintenance into one easily manageable digital bundle of code. Agencies can containerize and deploy their applications, then orchestrate those containers, with enterprise Kubernetes platforms such as Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform.
Because all of the resources are standardized in containers, agencies can run any of their developments across environments, while automation of these standard units makes agencies as agile as possible. Containers can include code that triggers certain chain events with other containers, and programs like Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform can help easily coordinate standardized protocols for automation.
Containers also allow agencies to scale workflows up or down easily, which is a major benefit of the cloud. The difference between sharing the code of containers five times and 100 is the push of a button. Clater said that means when it’s tax season for the Internal Revenue Service, the agency could scale up, only to scale down later, limiting cost and duplicative work.
“Once an application is containerized, that means that you really met the ‘nth’ degree of standardization and automation,” Clater said. “Because once something is containerized, we basically can stamp it out at any scale for any workflow.”
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “5 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask About Cloud.” Download the full report here.