Ever since the Office of Management and Budget issued its “cloud first” policy in December 2010, federal agencies have been wrestling with implementation. What to move to the cloud, how to move to the cloud, how much to move to the cloud, how to address security concerns during this hybrid transition phase – these are some of the bigger questions CIOs have been wrestling with.
Joe Kim thinks that perhaps those questions have been framed incorrectly.
“What most CIOs are coming to realize is that hybrid isn’t a transition, it’s the end state. That might seem minor, but it has huge implications,” the global CTO of SolarWinds said in an interview with FTI.
Take the issue of security, for instance. “Security concerns don’t just go away because you’re standing still,” Kim said. “No matter where you are you have to worry about security, so modernizing is the best way to address them.”
That changes the calculus for a CIO trying to find the right balance between traditional, on-premises data centers and using a public cloud, by adding the third leg to the stool – considering a private cloud as part of the mix.
The determination of the IT infrastructure mix starts with the question, “How secure does this data need to be – what comfort level do I need?” Kim said.
In turn, this dictates setting a strategy. “What is the purpose that I’m even looking at the cloud? Who do I need to bring in to validate this will solve it?” he said. ““For example, if I want to [use] big data, I have to look at things like, volume, variety, whether it’s just machine [data] and metrics, or audio and video?
The nature of how you build that system out can be really chaotic if you don’t plan it out … Once you have a focused discussion, it’s not like you can’t design a system to accommodate” your needs.
Kim said there are two types of strategy, both of which are needed. A “geometric” strategy measures the things that aren’t moving; a “calculus” strategy measures the things that are moving.
“The challenge for [the government] is that the geometric strategy works really well in federal agencies, but in the cloud you have to build in flexibility,” he said.
Kim recommended that CIOs and CTOs not talk to vendors until they have their strategy planned out.
“Once you know what you want to do, [that’s when] you look at the market,” he said. “With a vendor, look at their point of view – does that match yours? Do the vendors you’re choosing align with the flexibility you want? [Otherwise,] there’s a little bit of danger, looking for tech vendors to solve a problem for you,” because they will frame the challenges to suit the solutions they offer.
The downside to having a hybrid environment? It’s hard.
“That’s the only downside, that it’s hard,” Kim said. “It takes a lot of education when you go out to move to a hybrid environment. You have to understand that there’s a need for this and provide education … Make sure you can understand how you’re going to do change management.”
Want to learn more about the benefits of a hybrid environment, particularly how to enable full-stack visibility? You can find that information here.