Best Practices for Business Resilience: Cloud Spotlight

At the onset of the pandemic, the resilience of government agencies relied heavily on cloud technologies. They were critical solutions that enabled sudden telework and continuity of operations in the heat of crisis.

Now, agencies must consider cloud services in the context of a lasting hybrid work environment. How should they approach adopting, using and managing this technology for continued resilience, while addressing legacy IT challenges?

Brad Bowers, Director of Enterprise Technology at SHI, a tech service company, shared one approach for success: Don’t rely on one provider. Instead, like a good investor, diversify your cloud portfolio by taking a hybrid cloud approach. A hybrid cloud is an environment in which agencies use on-premise infrastructure and private and public clouds for IT and business needs.

You don’t have to know all the technical ins and outs of the cloud, but understanding the range of available options to drive business outcomes is essential. This allows you to be the driver of your own destiny.

“While all of the major cloud providers offer broad sets of solutions, they don’t offer everything. And some are more geared toward certain types of capabilities than others,” Bowers said. The key is to leverage what each provider excels at. Then, agencies can benefit from a well-rounded technology stack. It lowers risk and drives better performance, so if one service goes down, it doesn’t bring the whole agency down.

Many organizations are already taking this approach. In a 2018 Gartner survey, 81% of respondents said their organization works with two or more cloud providers.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is one of those organizations.

To catalog one of the world’s largest collections of scientific artifacts, the museum’s IT department needed to digitize about 30 million items from the fields of archaeology, biology, botany and paleontology. The growing number of high-resolution images, staff files and supporting data quickly caused a data explosion, resulting in insufficient data protection.

IT staff recognized their traditional storage solution could not meet the challenge. Their aging, overworked drives were failing on a weekly basis. With more than 2 million online visitors a year and data that needed to be readily accessible for researchers worldwide, finding a new solution was urgent.

So SHI partnered with the museum to evaluate their storage and find the best solution. Of several options, they found hybrid cloud to be the best fit, combining cloud-based storage technologies with on-premise infrastructure.

The hybrid solution also enabled the museum to provide a high level of service to internal users. The seamless deployment process allowed scientists and researchers to continue digitizing without disruption. And, it significantly shrunk the museum’s data center footprint. It reduced file storage costs by 60% and saved the IT team up to 50% in time management.

“We leverage decades of cloud, business and security expertise, to pull disparate pieces together and ensure there is a holistic plan to help agencies address their cloud concerns, move to the cloud successfully and build a resilient environment,” Bowers said.

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s guide, “Tackling Professional Development Taboos in Government.” Download the full guide here.

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