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Making the Most of Cloud

This blog post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, Mapping Government’s Journey to the Cloud: 8 Success Stories. The guide includes interviews with federal, state and local officials who have overcome common barriers to cloud adoption, including procurement and security. Download the full guide here to get their insights and tips for success. 

It seems everyone in government is talking about cloud computing. But even so, it can still be a difficult path to navigate alone.

That’s why DLT Solutions is working closely with agencies to make their journey to the cloud seamless and cost-efficient. As a public-sector IT reseller and managed services provider, DLT partners with cloud vendors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and ScienceLogic to help agencies adopt solutions that best support their missions.

David Blankenhorn, Chief Technology Officer at DLT, spoke with GovLoop about how the company works with agencies to implement cloud services and manage complex hybrid IT infrastructures, saving them money and increasing productivity.

In the past five years, Blankenhorn has seen a major shift in the conversation about cloud. In the beginning, customers wanted to know what cloud was and how it could be used. Two years later, the conversation shifted to how they could securely use cloud. Within the past year, he has noticed a new shift: “People are saying, ‘I get what cloud computing is, and I understand how it can be used securely, now how do I budget and acquire it?’”

That’s where DLT comes in. As a premier consulting partner for AWS, DLT helps make the path to cloud seamless and cost-efficient for agencies by offering lifecycle engineering and services a la carte, allowing agencies greater flexibility.

“We do everything from helping customers size their cloud accounts and making sure they have the right resources to helping them deploy, all while providing 24/7 U.S.- citizen-on-U.S.-soil-based support,” Blankenhorn said. DLT’s partnership with ScienceLogic is especially helpful, as agencies can use ScienceLogic’s AWS monitoring and dashboard services to track and man- age their cloud platforms.

The persistence of cloud conversations is due in part to the federal Cloud First policy, which started the conversation and directed agencies to consider cloud services. This opened the door to a greater understanding of how cloud could play an important role in achieving mission success.

“In many cases, there’s a shortage of money for new products and services,” Blankenhorn said. “Using cloud technology allows agencies to leverage limited funds to try new things out.”

Blankenhorn attributes cloud’s success to its elastic nature. “One of the most compelling value propositions of the cloud is the ability to scale up and scale down and change the amount of resources consumed based on workload,” he said.

That capability drives two key initiatives: accelerated time to market and public-sector innovation.

Elasticity has meant that agencies can more rapidly deploy new services by reducing the amount of extraneous work and resources poured into a project. In terms of innovation, “there are a lot of great ideas out there, but organizations are often hobbled by a lack of resources, whether it’s computing power, storage or networking,” Blankenhorn said.

Cloud enables organizations to test things quickly and inexpensively. If the ideas work, they can be scaled up and sent to production. If they do not, agencies can go back to the drawing board without incurring a great loss.

As organizations migrate to cloud, they face the challenge of managing complex, hybrid IT infrastructures that include on-premise data centers as well as cloud services. This hybrid environment creates unique management challenges, as agencies need to leverage both their cloud capabilities and their on-premise investments. Ideally, agencies should be able to use a common set of tools to manage both the on-premise and cloud resources.

Blankenhorn recommended that IT management tools handle three distinctive views all at once. First, the tools should monitor an agency’s traditional IT, such as servers, software and other assets the agency has in its data center. Second, the tools should be able to monitor and manage resources that are deployed in the cloud, such as virtual machines, elastic compute cloud resources, operating systems and applications. Third, tools should be able to look at the cloud platform itself and determine the health of the infrastructure, analyze tech performance and provide security monitoring.

Adopting the right cloud solution and having the proper tools to manage hybrid infrastructure require proper planning up front and dialogue between agencies and vendors during the acquisition phase. Doing so ensures that there is maximum flexibility in the contract for agencies to use the cloud platform in a manner that best meets their needs.

“Cloud is a different way of consuming information technology, and there’s definitely a learning curve to it,” Blankenhorn said. “We spend a lot of time working hand in hand with contracting officers and acquisition specialists to help them understand what the right models are and how to properly manage and monitor the acquisition of cloud services.”

 

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