How Government Can Become Cloud-Capable

This blog post is an excerpt from a sponsor of our latest IT modernization guide

Regardless of mission, government agencies cannot afford to stay stagnant when it comes to IT modernization. Budgets are getting leaner, citizens are increasingly demanding streamlined services through technology mediums of their choice, and employees are requiring new ways of empowerment through technology.

Despite its proven ability to advance IT modernization and reduce costs in the long run, cloud remains the biggest goliath for agencies looking to modernize their enterprise. Without the right strategy, security standards, and capabilities, it will remain difficult for government to fully reap the benefits of cloud and IT modernization.

Fortunately, there is a way agencies can become cloud-capable to meet their modernization goals. In an interview with GovLoop, Cory Conway, Director of Big Data Solutions and Services at August Schell shared how agencies can leverage the cloud to meet mission priorities and stay connected to the fast-moving market of IT modernization. August Schell is a cybersecurity company that provides innovative systems, products, and solutions to government.

According to Conway, becoming cloud-capable starts with empowering the workforce. He identified two main challenges with empowering employees today. First, there are too many IT products in government that require years of hands-on experience.

According to Conway, “Cloud readiness allows you to hire a diversity of skillsets instead of having a bunch of generalists.”

Rather than hiring new IT professionals for every new product acquired, or having in-house built software solutions that require on-the-job training time or niche skills, agencies can use outside expertise and consulting to train the staff they already have, saving time, costs, and labor.

The second challenge Conway identified was the misplaced fear of automation replacing humans.

“With cloud or any form of automation, people fear for their jobs,” he said. “But if you’re part of the efforts, you’re not only empowering yourself, you’re securing yourself for the long-term. In government, you’re never going to eliminate the need for IT staff or on-premise solutions, no matter how far we modernize with the private sector.”

Conway stressed that the only way for employees to get left behind is failure to embrace the change that comes with cloud. That’s why agencies need to position themselves to adapt for the long term.

To prepare for the cloud, Conway relayed the importance of staying connected to the emerging technologies market. Agencies can get cloud-ready by investing in platforms that meet security compliance and communicate easily with other legacy systems in government. This means seeking platforms that are already Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program-approved as well as platforms that easily export and integrate data into other systems.

“Cloud readiness means there may be multiple vendors involved,” Conway said. “Using a consolidated, shared platform as opposed to several one-off solutions makes it easier to transition to the cloud.”

While some say investing in cloud is expensive, Conway said it depends on which systems agencies choose to transition to the cloud. “Too often, organizations take the approach of lift and shift, which means taking old systems and moving them from on-premise data centers to cloud, replacing the old with the new,” he said. “This approach is more expensive and doesn’t take advantage of the benefits cloud offers like better resource utilization, scaling, DevOps, etc. The key is starting small to create a more elastic environment or using some of the soft services (like a database in the cloud) to reduce workload. A better approach is to maintain existing systems, but for anything new think cloud-native, and take advantage of cloud features and capabilities.”

While the prioritization around what to move is difficult to do in cloud environments, there are many private organizations that can help. Companies such as August Schell help federal agencies achieve high-level automation, understand how cloud can meet their security needs, all while training workforces to adjust to new systems and procedures. Specifically, August Schell harnesses cybersecurity solutions to help agencies move their data from on-premise environments to cloud-capable ones, ensuring data integrates in a secure and seamless manner.

“A lot of people fear moving to the cloud,” Conway said. “But it’s an evolution, and we’re here to help shepherd them through that process.”

Irrespective of public or private-sector, IT modernization is not slowing down. Getting your agency cloud-capable and ready can seem like a daunting challenge. But using secure, innovative cloud solutions that can integrate with other systems can save agencies time and worry over performance, compatibility and security.

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