The following blog post is an excerpt from a recent GovLoop resource: Your Guide to Using Everything-as-a-Service. In the guide, we explore how agencies can maximize the benefits of cloud technology by creating a holistic everything-as-a-service (XaaS) strategy.
Few doubt the advantages, and even the inevitably, of the transition of government IT services to the cloud. Now, the conversation has changed from what we can gain from the cloud to how we can reap those benefits.
So how do you get the most out of cloud solutions? There are four steps to creating a XaaS strategy that won’t disrupt or complicate your current IT infrastructure:
1. Analyze your current infrastructure.
Some organizations may already have a detailed understanding of their current IT infrastructure. Others will need to take time to map the processes, solutions, and networks that comprise their IT system. In either scenario, it’s crucial to begin your journey to a XaaS strategy by examining your current
In addition to cataloguing the solutions already deployed at your organization, there are a number of factors to consider in your analysis. To determine how your IT architecture operates, you must also think about current operating costs, connectivity with other agencies, contractual obligations to current systems, and operating efficiencies. Additionally, make sure you are not only analyzing what comprises your system, but how various systems interact with one another and with users, both internal and external.
Finally, don’t exclude current cloud solutions from your analysis. By now, your organization has likely already acquired some cloud services. In a recent GovLoop survey, more than 60 percent of respondents reported that their organization had transitioned at least some IT services to the cloud. However, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to form a coherent XaaS strategy.
If anything, these early cloud acquisitions can actually advance your new XaaS strategy. Analyze how they interact with your current infrastructure: Are they complicating your network? How could you get more from the solutions already deployed? Use the successes and setbacks from previous cloud transitions to determine how your agency is currently leveraging the cloud.
2. Set an end goal.
Once you’ve determined how your architecture operates, scrutinize if its current state meets your organization’s needs. Rather than trying to identify specific processes that can be altered, start by considering an ideal IT architecture broadly. On a high level, what do you want your organization to achieve through technology? Create an ideal profile for what that looks like. This is your end goal.
Take caution, however. Although your end state should be forward thinking, it should also be realistic. It’s important to account for the constraints of your organization, including its IT capabilities, purchasing processes, security concerns, and appropriations restrictions. These concerns may hinder your ability to adopt cloud solutions and should be addressed before a cloud strategy is executed. For instance, many cloud solutions require greater data storage and processing speeds. Consider what your current architecture can support and what capacities you may need to add before transitioning to cloud.
3. Determine your XaaS strategy.
A strategy that guides all, rather than individual, cloud purchases and deployments is necessary to ensure that any new solutions will seamlessly integrate with your current infrastructure.
Your strategy won’t necessarily be a step-by-step guide, with every new cloud solution predetermined. But it should include guidelines for what processes will be moved to the cloud and what characteristics should be streamlined across adopted solutions. Moreover, it should include a basic timeline that directs which services will be transitioned first and over what period of time transitions will take place.
Most importantly, your strategy should incorporate your entire IT architecture into every facet of planning. The next section, “Executing XaaS Strategies,” offers detailed guidance on how to ensure seamless transition. For now, it’s important to realize that any cloud strategy can be effective only if it takes a holistic approach.
4. Communicate your strategy.
This step is most often overlooked. More than 65 percent of respondents to our recent GovLoop survey said they were unaware of the strategy used to procure cloud services at their agency. Yet ensuring that everyone, both internal and external, understands your organization’s strategy for cloud transition is crucial. It will guarantee that solutions adopted in any one department are checked against organization-wide standards and procedures. It will also better prepare the public for changes in your processes, which may affect them.
To learn more about XaaS strategies to optimize cloud, check out the full report: Your Guide to Using Everything-as-a-Service.