Fulfilling the Promise of the Cloud

Despite the bright future that cloud computing seemingly offers, 80% of IT decision-makers have migrated their applications or data from the public cloud back to on-premise or private cloud environments, according to a 2018 survey from research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

Why did this shift occur? DuringGovLoop’s online training on Tuesday, “The Unfulfilled Promise of Cloud — and What Agencies Can Do About It” experts weighed in on what contributed to that percentage, and how agencies can start thinking more intelligently about adopting cloud.

“The cloud is not a silver bullet,” said Ryan Hillard, IT Specialist and Systems Developer at the Small Business Administration (SBA). “It gives you so much more power and a larger toolset to build systems in, but you can very easily go the wrong direction and abuse that toolset.”

Part of the difficulty of implementing such toolsets is the lack of people who are deeply trained in cloud platforms. Hillard noted that even when it comes to more mature platforms, it’s difficult to find competent architects with the deep skill set to build and transition systems to cloud.

“That means you’re going to have to grow the skill sets, and in order to grow the skill sets, we need to experiment,” Hillard said. “We need to evolve to be comfortable with standing up systems, doing proofs of concept and totally tearing them down again, realizing the only piece of value we’re getting out of that is our expanding skill set.”

Agencies can start by encouraging hands-on experiences for employees to directly interact with emerging technologies. Oftentimes, this can happen in partnership with industry. That’s what SBA did when its whole IT team attended a learning lab at one of their industry partner’s sites to learn about server lists.

“Go leverage industry partners to the maximum,” Hillard urged. “It is your holy duty to understand this tech as well as you possibly can so you can expend funds appropriately.”

In the beginning, the intent of cloud adoption was for agencies to simplify IT operations and improve user experience. The reality was that the cloud actually introduced new, unintentional complexities, and user experience turned out to be more about how an application traverses a network, said Walter Maikish, Director of Civilian Operations at Cisco.

A purpose-built and intent-based network helps simplify and streamline agencies’ unintended consequences by giving them cloud-ready visibility to manage risk appropriately, said Wayne Valentine, Senior Systems Engineering Manager for US Public Sector Federal Civilian Operations at Cisco.

“There is no cloud without security,” Valentine said. Being cloud-ready means taking a zero-trust approach to set security perimeters around the individual. In addition, it encompasses having an acceptable network infrastructure that can leverage capabilities for on-premise IT and data transition.

Moving forward, Maikish suggests identifying and mapping out the applications that are most important to an agency’s mission and most relevant to its move into the cloud.

“What I would love to see is not just to fix the unfulfilled promise,” Maikish said, adding that he’d like to see new technological leaps through the cloud’s capabilities. “That leapfrog is enabling artificial intelligence [AI], machine learning and Internet of Things [IoT] outcomes that are going to propel agencies and the nation forward. A lot of those applications are going to exist on the cloud.”

For more info about cloud adoption, download GovLoop’s latest report, “The Unfulfilled Promise of Cloud — and What Agencies Can Do About It.”

This online training was sponsored by:

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