For some government agencies that are just starting their cloud journey, the road ahead can seem daunting. It's a stark contrast from the old way of buy IT, one that allows agencies to invest in technology as a service rather than accumulating more hardware and software.
But cloud adoption doesn't happen in a vacuum. There is a lot of preparation and planning to decide what your IT environment will look like post-cloud migration and into the future. One of the topics that's being discussed among agencies is how to automate processes once they're available in a cloud environment. That can add yet another wrinkle to the complexities of cloud.
But the long-term benefits often outweigh the short-term challenges, experts argue. That was the topic of conversation at GovLoop's recent online training, "How Public Cloud and Automation Are Making an Impact in Government." The panel included Phil Bertolini, CIO and Deputy County Executive of Oakland County, Michigan; Jeff Kushner, Chief Marketing Officer at Allgress; and Patrick Gartlan, Chief Technology Officer at CloudCheckr.
Bertolini shared some of the difficulties his county faced in automating its cloud services. For one, the idea of automation scared some government employees into thinking they'd lose their jobs, which in turn brought about some passive aggressive behavior. In reality, he said, their jobs would just be changing, and they'd have more managerial tasks.
"You push through those roadblocks, [and] you find ways to deal with them," Bertolini said.
Misconceptions about cloud automation can plague an implementation process, so the panel sought to address some of them during the online training. It's often not as complicated or elusive a concept as it's made out to be, Gartlan explained.
"One of the benefits that probably goes a little unrecognized is just how many people can set up the automation in the cloud, and how many eyes you can have on it very easily," Gartlan said. "You can have everyone on the team … go in and make sure that everything is set up correctly."
The panel suggested that government keeps an open mind to the ways in which automation can streamline manual processes and free up staff to do more high-level work. Fluidity in automation is a crucial component.
"Everything's changing at one time, from the technology, to the regulations to the people," Kushner said. "You have to be able to pull together your people, your processes and technology to integrate them more tightly together."
Bertolini went on to reflect on his expectations for 2018 and beyond.
"When we talk about people, it's not just the technology at play," he said. "The ability to have the right skill sets on board to go ahead and move forward, is going to be more difficult."
The key, he said, is persevering in the face of adversity, whether it's the struggle to keep pace with technological advances or ensuring you have the right people in place to foster innovation.