Over the past few years, an increasing number of government organizations have worked towards adopting cloud solutions. Public sector agencies are no longer questioning the necessity of adopting a cloud solution and instead are looking to answer more complex questions like, “Should my agency choose a hybrid or multi-cloud solution?” or “How do security and privacy work into the solution I choose?”
However, now that cloud is more than just a buzzword, governments must start developing a more strategic approach to adoption. This month’s DorobekINSIDER Live, “The Cloud Transformation—From Buzzword to Mission Critical” brought together a panel experts to expand on the ideas in GovLoop’s recent guide “Taking Government Cloud Adoption to the Next Level,” including:
- Lena Trudeau, Owner of Trudeau Solutions; formerly Associate Commissioner of GSA’s Office of Strategic Innovation
- Dave McClure, Chief Strategist of Federal at Coalfire; former Associate Administrator of GSA’s Citizen Services and Innovation Technologies
- Keith Tippie, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Shop4Clouds; former Executive Director for the Enterprise System Development Office at the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Chief Information Officer
- Catherine Andrews, Senior Director of Content at GovLoop
Over the course of the discussion, the experts emphasized that the cloud is becoming increasingly more advanced since the concept was first introduced to government offices. The conversation illuminated three main things to understand about the current cloud landscape:
Gov has come a long way with cloud adoption but there is still room to grow. “Cloud was a baby five to ten years ago but it is growing up, which brings new challenges and uses,” Andrews explained. “While people were once wary of cloud adoption, it has now become a norm in government and is truly evolving government agencies.”
Instead of trying to figure out if they should adopt a cloud solution, governments are now working towards implementing the best solution to fit their needs. Trudeau explained, “There are a lot of levels to adoption. While many agencies are moving mission critical elements to the cloud, others are still just dipping their toes in and that is okay.” For those just starting out, she recommended moving an element that is relatively straightforward and learn as you go. This approach helps agencies to understand what works and what doesn’t in their specific environment and allows them to build up to moving more sophisticated workloads to the cloud overtime.
Cultural barriers to cloud adoption are significant. While it is challenging to work out the technical side of migrating to the cloud, cultural barriers and processes also put up significant roadblocks. McClure emphasized, “The culture issue in cloud acceptance is huge, cultural barriers are the thing that is underestimated the most when an agency moves to switch to a cloud environment however, they are one of the most important things that must be addressed as agencies move forward with adoption.”
In order to address cultural barriers, Trippie recommended a top down approach. “Agencies should work to simplify business processes and get things done more quickly at 80 percent rather than ensuring everything is done at 100 percent. However, this is a cultural change that takes support from agency leadership to make happen,” he said.
Additionally, Trudeau suggested taking a step back and really identifying what problem you are trying to solve with cloud adoption. By working with all key stakeholders to understand your agencies goals for cloud, you have an opportunity to redefine your business processes to make cloud adoption most effective.
Security is an issue but it doesn’t have to be. The biggest issue surrounding cloud security in government is trust. “You have to be comfortable turning services and data over to an external party and have the trust and confidence that the provider is not going to let a breech occur,” McClure explained.
The experts agreed that FedRAMP has helped a lot to build trust between third-party providers and governments looking to move to the cloud. Trudeau added, “This is where real collaboration between industry and government becomes so important because it allows us to open up a dialogue about what’s working and what is not and foster successful cloud adoption.”
Ultimately, the key to successful adoption is simply working towards implementing a solution that works for your agency. Trippie concluded, “Failure is not doing anything and not trying to implement a solution. Let’s get rid of that mindset and work on implementing one small aspect. Just try something, learn from it, and expand to other systems.”