The federal government is turning to the cloud to transform IT and create a dynamic environment that responds to users’ needs. However, the cloud environment is becoming increasingly diverse with a growing number of cloud providers who offer an expanding catalog of services that take advantage of constantly evolving technology.
The Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) 2019 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy – known as Cloud Smart — aids agencies turning to the cloud. In this diverse landscape, no one platform or cloud provider can do everything that agencies, their workforce and their customers require; each has its strengths and weaknesses. The reality is that most agencies are working in a hybrid and multi-cloud environment in which they have five to 10 clouds – even more for larger agencies.
To help agencies successfully manage this transformation and avoid the pitfalls of complexity, Cloud Smart focuses on three interrelated pillars that agencies and the private sector identified as keys to success.
“With the agility that we have today in IT, and the ability to use multiple clouds, ‘good enough’ is no longer good enough. …It needs to be perfect to match your mission.” -Gary Pentecost, Systems Engineering Director for Networking at Citrix
The first priority is the workforce. When it comes to workforce, government has one significant advantage in recruiting the talent needed for successful IT transformation: Many younger workers are motivated more by opportunity than by money. Government offers employees opportunities to work with cutting-edge technology and to learn and execute critical missions that impact people — in short, to make a difference — in ways the private sector can’t match. But to ensure that skills do not become stale, agencies must implement continuous training programs to keep pace with new technology.
Next is security — and that means enterprise visibility. Because you can’t secure what you can’t see, effective cybersecurity requires a unified view of the enterprise and its resources. “You have to make sure that you can see what’s happening across the workload and all the different clouds,” Pentecost said. “You have to be able to manage and visualize your environment as one.”
That is why complexity also is the enemy of security. Tools agencies use to monitor their data centers and end-user devices should be integrated with native cloud-based tools to provide a centralized view for network security and management in a “single pane of glass.”
Procurement also must be addressed. Traditional federal procurement practices focused on acquiring goods and were not designed to function at the speed of technology. With the transition to on-demand cloud services, rather than on-premise hardware and software, the need for fast, agile procurement practices is even greater. Agencies must avoid “cloud lock-in.” They need to select among providers to find a mix that meets all of their needs.
In order for agencies to fully take advantage of this new multi-cloud environment, they need to rethink their approach to basic elements of successful IT transformation, which include workforce, security and procurement. The transformation will likely not be simple but the results — streamlined hiring, continuous training, and the ability to leverage best-of-breed products and services — will be worth the complexity.
This blog post is an excerpt from our new report, How to Keep Complexity From Slowing Down Cloud-Based Transformation.
To learn about best practices for managing a hybrid, multi-cloud environment and ways to plan and rethink how agencies approach the basic elements of successful IT transformation, download our full report here.