Experience Matters in the Journey to the Cloud for Federal Governments
The federal government may be focused on connecting its networks and moving information and as many applications to the cloud as possible, but this is anything but a straightforward process.
What we have learned at CenturyLink is that cloud migration is a marathon, not a sprint. It involves a concerted effort to conduct detailed assessments of agencies’ workloads to identify the most appropriate venues, which vary from public cloud to private cloud and include hybrid solutions, software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and maintaining legacy environments.
Government is in a unique position because many agencies have been providing services securely and efficiently to citizens for years before cloud technology was even conceived. While many of those services can be migrated over to different cloud environments, agencies need to be mindful of the risk of disruption to some services. One key to government agencies successfully migrating to the cloud is careful planning by experts before any migration begins.
Clearly, there are applications that are best suited for public cloud environments, while others are more appropriate for private cloud. But agencies may also need dedicated environments that cannot leverage the benefits of cloud. This is the main reason we’ve seen a number of agencies repatriating applications that they thought would suit a public cloud environment back to a dedicated one.
Because of this, we would like to offer the following suggestions for some critical actions that agency IT professionals should consider before modernizing their IT infrastructure and moving it to the cloud:
- Make a complete inventory of all IT assets, including existing infrastructure and applications, and identify how they are being used. We realize that this may be easier said than done, but you have to know what you already have in order to take the next steps for modernization. Many agencies invariably are surprised by what they find.
- Conduct a “cloud readiness assessment.” This is critical to determining and defining which workloads can be moved, including assessing what type of cloud(s) should be part of an overall IT modernization plan.
- Examine and update their enterprise network architecture. Unfortunately, existing, purpose-built wide area networks can be an obstacle to IT modernization in the application era. The goal should be to start with a modern network that features programmable controls and is able to evolve and maintain responsiveness with proper intelligence and security. This what I talked about in my previous blog post and what we call adaptive networking.
Another key part of an agency’s cloud strategy and assessment is identifying the best way to manage applications once they have migrated to the cloud. Agencies should make sure they work with the right vendors to help weigh all of the many factors and benefits of the transition to the cloud.
Experience matters. Agencies should seek out a provider that really understands the government’s Cloud Smart strategy. At CenturyLink, we understand because we have hands-on experience with helping customers migrate and manage their cloud applications. For example, we successfully worked with the state of Colorado to help move their enterprise applications to the cloud utilizing Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) models.
But even as the cloud ecosystem continues to evolve, the foundation remains the same. The success of any cloud migration rests on the network, which provides the foundation for agencies’ cloud initiatives and the basis for a successful migration, even in a complex multi-cloud environment.
However, migration is just the beginning. Once the applications are in the cloud or in some cases, in multiple clouds, how can agencies effectively manage them? That’s where agencies need to look for a Cloud Application Manager (CAM) service that enables them to maximize a cloud application’s life cycle management and related managed services. Such a product also optimizes and provides data analytics for the entire environment, from the network up through the application itself. We recently discussed this with Federal News Network on an executive panel and summarized our discussion in brief that’s available online.
Clearly, government can reap great rewards from today’s cloud computing technologies, but migrating to the cloud is not an easy task, and managing it once you are there can be even harder. But the key is careful planning and selecting a trusted IT partner with deep cloud migration experience who has helped agencies make that journey before.
To learn more about the government’s Cloud Smart journey and how you can apply the lessons learned from other agencies’ cloud migrations to your IT projects, we invite you to attend the FedInsider’s next breakfast briefing on Tuesday morning, September 17th, at the Willard Hotel in downtown DC. I will be there, as well as leaders from OMB, DHS, USPTO, USDA, DOI and the Commonwealth of Virginia. I hope to see you there.