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Why Agencies Do, And Don’t, Move to the Cloud

Cloud-based technology can make agencies more efficient and reduce stress on government workforces. But not all public-sector entities embrace the cloud; in fact, some strongly resist it.

During a recent online training entitled “Top Reasons Agencies Are Moving to Cloud in 2023,” GovLoop heard from three government and industry experts, who discussed why agencies sometimes balk at adopting cloud solutions. 

The speakers — André Mendes, Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Department of Commerce; Josh Marpet, VP of Regulatory Strategy at Earthling Security; and Bryan Walter, General Manager and Vice President for Federal Solutions at Gordian — also spoke about cloud’s specific benefits for agencies of all sizes. Below are three takeaways from their remarks.

Develop a Strategy and Roadmap

Fully migrating to the cloud isn’t something you do for the sake of doing it. Agencies often face significant hurdles, including cultural resistance to giving third-party cloud providers control over mission-critical functions, and woefully outdated legacy applications that require a herculean effort to make them cloud-friendly. Financing and staff talent can be in short supply, and some workloads don’t lend themselves well to cloud technology. More complicated agencies generally have the biggest challenges.

That’s why developing a strategy, and a roadmap to achieve it, is so important. 

“If you want to do a full migration, sit down and plan it out,” said Marpet. “You can’t do a plan that’s too detailed for a cloud journey.”

Be Realistic About Resources

By and large, the skills needed to operate cloud technology are not included in standard IT training. That means agencies often lack the staff talent they desire, or they pay arguably exorbitant vendor fees to fill the talent gap. In fact, the cost of finding cloud talent can be so significant that it overwhelms an agency’s cloud-based cost savings.

And there also can be a disconnect between the government’s approach to IT financing and the necessities of moving from on-premises to cloud systems.

“The reality,” said Mendes, “is that there is a substantial amount of time during which there is some parallelism of both operations, and the federal government has never really had a good solution for parallel efforts being equally financed.”

Think of Security Differently

Cybersecurity in the cloud requires a different mindset. When systems are on premises, agencies have more control over protecting their networks, but another entity is responsible when those systems are in the cloud. Forfeiting direct cyber control can be discomfiting and, at minimum, delay an organization’s cloud journey.

And FedRAMP — the federal program that establishes a standardized approach to cloud security and risk assessment for all federal agencies — imposes significant new requirements once agencies move to the cloud.

“The FedRAMP process is no doubt a daunting one for anyone who’s experienced it,” Walter commented. “You end up with a really outstanding product, [but] the requirements to get there are no joke.”

Click here for an on-demand version of the training and additional speaker insights. 

This online training brought to you by:

Photo by Pixabay on pexels.com

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