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Cloud vs. On-Prem? You Might Have a Better Option

Federal IT leaders seem to be at a crossroads when it comes to their infrastructure and operations, facing a choice of what to move to the cloud and what to keep on premises.

An overwhelming 91% of federal respondents in a recent survey said they have all, most or some of their systems and solutions in the cloud. In the same survey, however, 56% of federal respondents said they still prefer to keep at least some of their sensitive citizen data and mission-critical data on premises.

The problem is that the public cloud necessitates tradeoffs in terms of security, control and predictable costs, while on-premises operations can be impractical because of the requirements for onsite staff and the costs of managing the premises.

But agencies have another choice beyond on-prem and public/private/hybrid cloud operations: an on- demand, single-tenant infrastructure. This offers the best of both worlds, giving agencies control without the burdens of managing their own data center — and still meeting the requirements of the federal Cloud Smart policy.

“There’s a general push in the government to get out of the business of managing data centers and focus more resources on actually delivering the services that Americans expect from government,” said Brad Scyrkels, Vice President and General Manager of Cyxtera Federal Group, a global data center operator and infrastructure provider.

“The push to move to the cloud has become single-minded and narrow in its scope, to the point of being a detriment to the actual practitioners,” he said.

How It Works

On-demand access to single-tenant infrastructure can provide the security of dedicated hardware, the flexibility of a subscription-based pricing model and the scalability of programmatic provisioning of compute, storage and network connections. This approach is valuable in certain situations, such as managing small workloads or services that need to be quickly scaled up or down, as well as maintaining control of sensitive data.

On-demand, single-tenant infrastructure isn’t exactly a private cloud, which can be described as a shared resource that you own. It’s a colocated infrastructure on which you can build cloud-type offerings.

An on-demand infrastructure service can provide what agencies are looking for, including:

  • Flexible bandwidth that can be scaled up as needed
  • Remote access with low-latency connections
  • Instant computing power via automated provisioning
  • Custom-configured servers, matching the processor, random access memory, storage, graphics processing unit and network hardware to an agency’s workloads
  • Total control over the data and the entire stack, as opposed to giving that control to a cloud provider

Unlike the cloud, on-demand, single-tenant infrastructure allows IT staff to apply their existing skills to moving workloads and security frameworks to the new environment, rather than having to learn cloud-based skills.

“It’s a rare skillset, and it’s in demand,” said Robert Picarillo, Systems Engineering Manager at Cyxtera. On-demand infrastructure, however, offers a familiar look. “Converting existing workloads, security and compliance frameworks to a bare-metal platform is almost one-for-one,” he said.

This article appears in our guide, “Agency of the Future: How New Possibilities are Emerging in the Present.” To read more about how agencies are anticipating future needs, download it here.

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

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