Federal agencies looking to embrace IT modernization via the cloud and virtualization got a lot of useful – and honest – advice from fellow government IT professionals at last month’s MeriTalk Cloud Computing Brainstorm.
Advice ranged from the practical and tactical to the philosophical over the course of the day. On the practical side of things, Robert Palmer, deputy CTO for the Department of Homeland Security urged his peers to “start small; center on mission objectives that you can tackle. We did infrastructure as a service…It was a great exercise, [we] saved money [and] transformed the way the team worked.”
Moving to the cloud for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service, or Software as a Service (SaaS) is a smart move for all government agencies, commented Joe Kim, SVP and Global CTO for SolarWinds. “What the cloud does is enable government agencies to improve IT flexibility and responsiveness and maximize capacity while reducing cost, all of which has pass through benefits for agencies to meet the mission and deliver critical services,” Kim continued.
He cautioned however that “agencies must have IT management and monitoring tools in place” in order to maximize the benefits of moving to the cloud. “Management and monitoring tools give critical insight into an agency’s cloud-based computing, allowing your team to isolate and address issues specific to private, public, and hybrid cloud implementations. While the cloud might be able to turbo boost the mission, in these types of tight budgets you want to ensure that you get what you’re paying for.”
Jack Wilmer, Infrastructure Development Executive, at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), said that his team placed the emphasis on the administrative side of the processes. IT managers have to know where the costs will be coming from in this still evolving industry, watch the trends, and figure out what they will be charging for in the future. “You have to build your apps and your systems to take advantage” of the shifts in pricing models, he said.
To help manage costs and maximize flexibility, Chad Sheridan, CIO for the Risk Management Agency at USDA shared that his team is “looking a little more at vendors who embrace open standards.”
While flexibility, responsiveness, and cost management are all great reasons for agencies to migrate to the cloud, what the most important issue for federal agencies today: cybersecurity?
For Kim, moving to the cloud is “better for security than maintaining agency systems because there are more opportunities to continuously monitor systems, not only to optimize IT operations but to develop a complete cybersecurity picture.”
This perspective was echoed by Daniel McCrae, director of the Services Delivery Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who shared that it’s like being “given the opportunity to start from scratch again.”
McCrae continued “for a long time we’ve approached and treated cyber as something bolted on; if it was included in the design phase, you’re one of the fortunate few. If you have the opportunity to not have to move a legacy system, [you’ve been] given a second chance to pay attention to those important cybersecurity issues.”
Want to start your agency on its journey to the cloud? You can get more practical guidance and recommendations from this webcast: