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Moving Agency-Wide Workloads to the Cloud

The public and private sectors have hyped cloud infrastructure for years now, at times leading to an impression the transition from legacy IT models is nearly complete. In reality, we’re just at the start.

GovLoop’s recent online training, “How to Move Agency-Wide Workloads to the Cloud,” brought several industry and government experts together to unpack the technology’s complexities and how agency’s can most efficiently make the move. The panelists were Ken Currie, Group VP, Enterprise Cloud Architects & Platform Specialists, Oracle; Guy Cavallo, Deputy Chief Information Officer, Small Business Administration; and Mukundan Srinivasan, Chief Information Officer, Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS).

Currie was the first of the experts to speak on training, explaining cloud adoption as adherent to a three-part curve.  The first phase, “Early Adopters,” took place between 2007 and 2017. The second phase, which we are now entering, he said, is called “Mainstream Migrators.” When 2022 rolls around, we’ll enter the third phase: “Final Followers.”

According to Currie, the current phase is characterized by new technology in mobile, social, chatbot and artificial intelligence realms. The cloud is expected to deliver consistent and reliable performance.

“[Agencies] also want to extend their governance policies into the cloud where it’s possible,” Currie said. “They simply won’t move if they’re forced to give up that level of visibility, of control, that they currently have.

He explained that the Oracle Cloud had some key differentiators over other services. First, the company is a one-stop shop for data as a service (DaaS), software as a services (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). The Oracle Cloud is also architected for peak and predictable performance.

Lastly, Oracle meets customers where they are. The company offers flexibility in deployment, whether the system is public, private or a hybrid.

Cavallo followed Currie, and he spoke about the Small Business Administration’s 82-day migration to Microsoft’s Azure Cloud. To help facilitate the cloud evolution, SBA set up five tiger teams: for service management, service engineering, service automation, migration and cloud operations.

“None of them had cloud experience, but then we supplemented them with contractors that did have the experience,” Cavallo said. “That’s what we used to do the 82-day effort. I can update you now that … we’ve restructured the team, cut it down to three teams, because we don’t need the same level of effort.”

In terms of concrete goals, SBA is hoping to close five on-premise data centers this year, by migrating servers to Azure. As a result, the agency would be able to implement cloud security capabilities for the entire enterprise.

The transformation has altered SBA’s hiring process, as well. For example, the agency has a new chief information security officer and IT operations director joining the team. In addition, all position descriptions are being rewritten so that new hires will have cloud expertise as a requirement.

Mukundan was the last of the experts to speak during the training, and he discussed Virginia’s Medicaid Enterprise System.

“One recommendation for you is that … [security] concerns can be addressed by having a very dedicated set of policies and procedures for expectations, and then follow through on that,” Mukundan said.

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