Federal agencies currently spend a sizable portion of their IT budgets keeping old and/or outdated IT systems up and running. The Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act was passed late last year to provide government agencies with IT-focused financial resources and technical expertise to help fix this problem. According to the White House memorandum, the goal of the MGT Act is to “allow agencies to invest in modern technology solutions to improve service delivery to the public, secure sensitive systems and data, and save taxpayer dollars.”
With extra IT funds, where will agencies spend that money?
According to the SolarWinds 2018 IT Trends Report, federal IT professionals are continuing to prioritize investments related to hybrid IT and cloud computing. In fact:
- 97% of survey respondents listed hybrid IT/cloud among the top five most important technologies to their organization’s IT strategies
- 50% listed hybrid IT/cloud as their most important technologies
Coupled with the Cloud First Policy issued by the White House in 2011, it seems logical that agencies should use funds provided by the MGT Act to begin their cloud migration if they haven’t done so already, or to speed up the process of moving systems and applications to the cloud.
Yet, as a federal IT pro, how do you know which systems to migrate and which should stay on-premise?
Best Choice Apps for Cloud Migration
It’s easier than you might think to target the best applications for cloud migration. There are four primary things to consider:
- Criticality to the mission
- Variable usage
First and foremost, look at the amount of data your application is accumulating and the amount of storage it’s taking up. Lots of data and storage space can equal lots of money on databases and storage systems. The reality is, many agencies have terabytes worth of data stored in on-premise databases, even though a vast majority of that data is hardly accessed.
Agencies can save a good amount of money in two ways when moving that data into the cloud. First, think of the reduced maintenance costs; people, hardware, software—the costs for 24×7 support of all of these can be reduced by moving to a cloud environment. Second, with a cloud environment you’re only paying for what you use, which means you can add storage capacity on the fly if you need to or, just as important, remove storage you no longer need without the headache and cost of decommissioning systems.
While this may seem obvious, consider keeping your most complex applications on-premise until you’ve already undergone some application migration and understand the ins and outs of the process.
When considering complexity, think not only about the application itself, but think about its dependencies, connections, and associations. The more that application relies on or connects to other systems, the more complex it will be to migrate—which means it may be better to wait until you’ve got solid migration experience before tackling these systems.
Criticality to the mission
Save the most mission-critical applications for last, or keep them on-premise. That said, there may be more options for non-critical applications than you realize. Think about development or staging environments and applications, disaster recovery systems, and many human-resources applications. This way, if there is a glitch in your migration, the agency will continue operating without interruption.
Another point worth making: put home-grown applications in the same category as mission-critical applications. These may be far more complex to migrate and may be best off staying on-premise.
Perhaps the area where federal IT pros can get the most bang for their buck in migrating to the cloud is in “bursty” applications. Think about applications that get heavy use during very specific time periods, such as during the holidays. The Department of Labor is the perfect example, as it has dramatic computing needs during Census years, but much less in other years.
The challenge with keeping these types of applications on-premise is needing to have resources at the ready for these heavy-use periods—resources that otherwise can go unused. This is precisely what makes them ideal for cloud migration.
A cloud environment provides the ability to scale up and down, depending on agency computing needs; and, of course, you only pay for what you use.
Consider, too, the applications that require batch processing for the very same reasons. The ability to scale up and down during batch-processing jobs means you don’t have to pay for all that processing power in house; instead, you can simply use what you need, when you need it, and scale back down when the job is done.
The MGT Act is good news for federal IT pros, giving them the opportunity to move their infrastructure forward and invest in newer, more efficient technologies. For many agencies, cloud and hybrid IT may be the ideal place to start.