As the end of 2020 draws near, for 2021 multi-cloud environments will continue to be one of the best investments agencies can make in respect to their IT initiatives. Delivering agility, resiliency, security, and cost-effectiveness, it helps agencies maintain control while connecting to a multitude of data storage and management environments. But what is needed by agencies to make these environments successful and what solutions must they have to accommodate them? To answer these questions, we sat down with Dave Pipes, Senior Solutions Architect at Affigent.
Government Technology Insider (GTI): What kind of capabilities are needed to effectively build and manage a multi-cloud environment?
Dave Pipes (DP): Ideally, federal customers looking at multi-cloud environments should already have support for cloud management in their own internal processes. They should also have identified cloud services, specifically those that will be useful across as many parts of the organization as possible.
Their IT and development teams should be familiar with the operating system and its general performance as well as cost characteristics of the chosen cloud services. It’s also important that internal security and access management be extended into the cloud environment to avoid duplication of information in different environments – this can be very time-consuming and poses the usual risks that come with unwieldy processes and repetition.
Lastly, the infrastructure should be built out to allow connection to the various clouds without affecting performance. It’s easier to have all of these things in place before starting a multi-cloud infrastructure project. And, they are usually developed during an initial cloud project with just a few applications in one provider. This is where a good cloud implementation professional services contract can be of help in that stage of the process.
GTI: What are the benefits of a multi-cloud environment?
DP: It’s interesting, each vendor’s cloud has to compete in the marketplace. So, naturally each one focuses on somewhat different strengths. Agencies should look at the various strengths of cloud vendors and carefully match their requirements to the vendor’s capabilities. Don’t assume that all clouds are good at everything; vendors will of course try to be all things to customers, but don’t be taken in by this. It’s important to do your research on price, performance, security, and other characteristics that matter to your applications to identify the areas that separate one vendor from another. In that way, you’ll tailor your cloud environments to your specific needs rather than trying to make a deal with one vendor and wedging all your requirements into that vendor’s technical approach. That’s a recipe for future disaster.
It’s easy to understand the advantages of different vendors. Think of a company trying to decide on commercial transport. They may have some requirements for heavy lift trucking, passive passenger services, and deliveries. Should they simply buy a hundred pickup trucks? I bet they could get a great price on those trucks, but what additional costs would soon occur? Many of those pickup trucks will be sitting idle while they pay high daily rates for larger trucks and maybe sedans to fill in the gaps in their approach. They’d be much better off signing leases with three different vehicle providers and only leasing what’s needed. In the long run, it will be less expensive that way. The key is to be flexible and secure and this is made possible when problems with one vendor don’t extend to the others.
GTI: How do multi-cloud environments help federal agencies to meet the mission?
DP: Federal agencies are concerned about cost, security, ease of use, flexibility and also, continuity of service. These are not the only considerations, but they’re a good start. Different clouds can efficiently accommodate different workloads and still offer the speed of change that modern IT demands along with security and stability using a central cloud management tool. This in turn reduces costs over time. Just like most data centers use a variety of servers to meet different needs, federal customers should consider variety in their cloud environments as well.
GTI: What solutions make it easier to manage multi-cloud environments?
DP: Solutions that allow for the management and monitoring of hybrid clouds, Oracle, AWS, Azure, Google, and all other sorts of off-premise and on-premise cloud environments are critical for easy management. Other things to look for include the ability to link single sign-on capabilities across clouds to provide seamless access. Above all, what’s really needed is flexibility to fit all sorts of cloud deployment scenarios.
Federal customers truly need solutions with high performing large-scale infrastructure components attached to high-speed networks with end-to-end encryption and highly granular access controls – all of this plus cost-effectiveness.
And for agencies hesitant of multi-cloud? Don’t be. Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all cloud available but an organizational IT approach — open to a variety of clouds — will enable an efficient, flexible, and secure environment for your agency.
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