In October, I spoke at the Billington Cybersecurity Conference and was asked about priorities for agencies moving to the cloud. It’s a question that makes you think about where we are in our cloud journey. AWS has been around for some time and Azure has too. Most agencies have dipped their toes into cloud in some capacity, and we’re now reaching a point where many agencies are embracing multi-cloud models. That, in and of itself, has created some confusion about how to prioritize cloud initiatives and even how we should think about cloud.
To put it in simple terms, I’d like to highlight three things you need to consider for a multi-cloud strategy: an understanding of why you’re moving to the cloud, governance, and an approach to leverage the tools that exist today to protect against building silos.
These steps can help organizations avoid mistakes that can cost them time and money and put them on the right track to truly leverage cloud (and the people who know how to work effectively within it) for the good of their missions. Here are some important considerations that will help make moving to the cloud a success.
1. Remember Cloud Computing Is a Mission Enabler
Far too often the cloud is viewed as a “place to be” and not a capability. Even if you’re lifting and shifting applications into the cloud, you still have to adjust your operations and platforms so that you can support your cloud environment – one that, in reality, is likely going to include or evolve to multiple clouds. It’s therefore critical to surround your cloud endeavors with the operational resources and support necessary to take advantage of all the benefits the cloud has to offer. Treat cloud as a mission enabler to enhance your core capabilities, and you start to see all the components necessary to ensure you are leveraging cloud to its fullest potential for your agency.
2. Go Multi-Cloud Only if It’s Right for You
The cloud by itself has lots of benefits to offer: it’s elastic, scalable and gives you the enhanced capabilities to get things done. But, cloud service providers each offer differentiating capabilities on their platform, beyond compute and storage. Cloud native services exist to help you realize the benefits of cloud no matter your provider(s). As an example, the recently announced AWS SageMaker Canvas enables business analysts to start leveraging the power of AI/ML even if you’re not staffed with a team of data scientists. To be sure, multi-cloud environments can keep agencies from being locked into one vendor’s platform and let you shift workloads between them. However, introducing a multi-cloud environment can create complexities and challenges that aren’t always outweighed by those benefits.
3. Cut Through Red Tape and Unintentional Complexity
Inevitably, operating on multiple clouds will create additional complexity. But complexity can be managed and can even be instructive. Agencies should be sure that the introduction of a new cloud platform doesn’t result in siloed workstreams or intractable procedural hurdles. The cloud is about expanding capabilities: about doing more, handling more workloads, becoming more flexible. Designating one environment as a home base, or SSO, and then understanding how to seamlessly leverage specific clouds for specific workloads will give your organization agility and insights like never before.
4. Do the Planning Necessary to Support Your Cloud Needs Today and into the Future
Cloud vendors are constantly evolving and regularly deploying new services and capabilities that could help solve some of your agency’s toughest challenges. Planning and strategic thinking around the cloud should be happening all the time, and it should inform the answers to questions like: Which cloud is right for my organization? Am I introducing unnecessary complexity with this choice? Is the security as good? These are essential considerations for any agency; and the answers will differ based on your mission and business needs. Your cloud strategy will continually evolve, and it requires attention and planning just like any other capability.
At GDIT, we see our role as a partner to agencies in helping them deliver on their missions and address the challenges that can arise along the way. This is why we invest in the time, training, and talent necessary to help our customers become even more effective and strategic as they deliver on their missions and advance them.
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