Federal government agencies began moving to the cloud roughly a decade ago. In 2018, many are still struggling to modernize their legacy systems.
“The biggest thing is having a strategy as you’re moving to the enterprise cloud,” Neil Kronimus, General Dynamics Information Technology’s (GDIT) Director, Cloud Services said during a GovLoop online training Thursday. “Make sure as you move along that journey, you’re revisiting your strategy. Don’t be afraid to fail. If something doesn’t work, learn from it and move forward.”
Dave Larrimore, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Chief Technology Officer (CTO), said that he advocates gradual cloud adoption after doing so at his agency.
“Crawl, walk, run,” he said of his experience at ICE, a Homeland Security Department (DHS) component. “You need to be able to get experience in the cloud infrastructure. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s a lot better to make a lot of small bad decisions than one big bad one.”
Larrimore said that agencies must view cloud technology realistically before deploying it across their entire enterprise.
“Going to the cloud is hard work and requires smart people,” he said. “No, going to the cloud doesn’t solve all your IT management problems, and yes, apples to apples, the cloud is more expensive, but that’s not the point.”
Larrimore said that understanding cloud’s value to ICE’s goals was critical to getting leadership fully committed to adopting it.
“We wanted to deliver at the speed of the mission,” he said. “We needed to solve this problem for the entire enterprise. Part of that is convincing your mission folks and your budget folks that you should be doing that.”
Larrimore said that ICE settled on adopting a private, multi-cloud infrastructure that incorporated DevSecOps and agile software development. Multi-cloud models feature cloud applications, assets and software dispersed across several cloud-hosting locations. DevSecOps is a software engineering mindset that combines development, operations and security from a project’s conception.
“Generally, every system must do some sort of modernization,” he said of the cloud adoption process. “They’re using end-of-life components and that doesn’t work in the cloud.”
Kronimus said that many agencies are struggling with cloud adoption due to cybersecurity fears, budget costs and procurement regulations. GDIT delivers innovative, next-generation IT solutions and professional services aimed at modernization. The company’s cloud portfolio, for example, include managed services, hybrid IT solutions and multicloud offerings.
“They need funding to be successful, but they also need expertise,” he said of organizations. “It’s making sure that they understand the security regulations. The cloud is a different contract model than what we’ve seen in the past.”
Kronimus added that agencies should consider whether their applications need modernizing, and, if so, that they have the proper security controls for cloud migration.
“You’re never done with the cloud,” he said. “You’re always evolving. The enterprise architectures of yesterday do not work in the cloud today. You need a roadmap on each of your applications to figure that out.”
Larrimore said that agencies looking to move to an enterprise-wide cloud should automate migration where possible, build future apps within cloud systems and get leadership committed to the infrastructure.
“If you don’t have everyone involved from the get-go, you’ll get further down the road before someone throws a red flag and brings the whole thing to a screeching halt,” he said. “Will this move the mission forward? If it would, we do it.”