The pandemic has accelerated federal agencies’ move to the cloud, whether private, public, or a hybrid cloud approach. Over the past two years, agencies have relied on cloud solutions to quickly scale up or down infrastructure, as needed. Now that a hybrid environment is here to stay, federal agencies have a few things to consider when moving to a hybrid cloud environment and developing an agile cloud strategy.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), recently developed a guide for federal agencies investing in cloud solutions. According to a GSA blog post, “Agencies need informed strategies to understand, anticipate, rationalize and optimize major cloud architecture decisions.”
Red River Technologies also has offered the following considerations for federal agencies considering the shift to a hybrid cloud. Here are five key areas that their experts highlight for agencies to consider:
- Managing Multiple Clouds – Private and Public
Red River experts advise agencies to consider what it means to manage both a private cloud and a public cloud. “Effectively, that means you will have a public infrastructure-as-a-service platform (such as Microsoft Azure and AWS) alongside an on-premises data center or server bank. Hybrid cloud networking provides the advantages of both private and public cloud solutions, but, when not used effectively, it can also provide the disadvantages of both. For instance, the on-premises data center requires in-person maintenance, hardware updates and in-person troubleshooting.”
- Connections Between Private and Public Cloud
According to Red River experts, your ISP and failover solutions matter. “On your private cloud, you will have low latency and solid connectivity. Ideally, you should have multiple fast, dedicated lines available. And you may not even have them both through the same ISP if you’re concerned about having a failover connection.”
“The cloud can be complicated without expertise, and, in terms of failover solutions, it’s also important to think about system architecture and your hybrid cloud network diagram. If one part of your cloud goes down, will it all go down? What are your contingencies? As your system becomes more complex and more reliant on other systems, you need to ensure that the entirety of your hybrid network won’t go down en masse.”
- Security of Data Transmission
“When your public cloud and private cloud talk to each other, all your data should always be encrypted through SSL or TLS,” according to Red River experts. “While this is simple enough, it’s something that can be forgotten when it comes to hybrid cloud security.”
“On a private network, the data is all over your LAN or WAN. In a public network, the data is already being encrypted through the IaaS service. But when you integrate your local network with your public cloud, more work may need to be done to ensure the transfers are encrypted and secure. And you may need an expert in hybrid cloud network security to achieve a balance.
More than that, you should locate your data intelligently. You need to make sure that your data is located where it needs to be to reduce the amount of data being transferred. Realistically, if data continually has to be transferred from your private cloud to your public cloud, it should probably be on the public cloud; it’s not gaining any benefit to being in the private cloud if it’s constantly being transferred out.”
- Cost of Hybrid Cloud Environments Over Time
A hybrid cloud solution often is more expensive in the beginning, yet if managed correctly, is more affordable over time. Offloading processing-intensive systems to the public cloud, often reduces the amount of processing power and data storage needed in an organizations’ on-premises server banks. And by utilizing the privacy and security of on-premises server banks enables a reduction in the overall public cloud services.
Yet Red River experts warn agencies to, “Be prepared for the initial costs to be higher. Your tech advisor can walk you through the total cost of ownership for each system (public, private and hybrid) and explain the best solution for your agency. If you don’t architect your hybrid cloud environment right, it’s possible that it could become more expensive than either solution overall. It’s important to optimize the resources used on your public cloud while still maintaining a limited inventory of on-premises hardware.”
- Identifying the Right Partner on the Cloud Journey
With the fast adoption of cloud technology, it can be hard to remember that it’s still relatively new. And hybrid cloud technology is even newer. That’s why it’s crucial to identify a partner on your cloud journey that can guide you along the way.
“It’s critical to get outside help if you’re trying to adopt a hybrid network. Hybrid networks are extremely beneficial to many organizations, which is why they’re being adopted at such a rapid pace. But they’re also very complex — more complex than a public and a private network combined,” Red River experts noted.
Click here to find out how a managed service provider can guide your agency on its cloud journey.
Saurabh Verma is a Cloud Design Architect at Red River and a contributor to Government Technology Insider.