Cloud computing has been top of mind for the government and the coronavirus pandemic has made the need for cloud solutions even more apparent. To enable remote work and essential service delivery during the height of the pandemic, government agencies relied in part on cloud computing applications to continue mission delivery. Before the pandemic, many agencies were focused on transitioning to the cloud as part of the IT modernization strategy and as agencies take stock of their cloud solutions, it’s important that the focus remains on enabling mission delivery and security, particular with FedRAMP solutions.
In a recent virtual panel, Paul Puckett, Director, Enterprise Cloud Management Office, U.S. Army, Karen Wrege, Chief Information Officer, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, Department of State, Ashley Mahan, Director, Secure Cloud Portfolio and FedRAMP, General Services Administration, Habib Hourani, Team Lead, Federal Solutions Engineering, Okta, Nicholas Speece, Chief Federal Technologist, Snowflake and Joe Hamblin, DoD Chief Technology Officer, Verizon, came together to discuss cloud transformation and the important role that security plays in agency use. The experts also shared how their agencies are leveraging the cloud to enhance mission delivery.
According to the recent Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon, the public sector faced 6,843 incidents with 346 confirmed data disclosures last year, highlighting the need for secure solutions. “We provide the infrastructure, the low latency, as well as the support for the middleware,” said Hamblin with Verizon. “We’ve rolled in our Zero Trust infrastructure as part of these solutions,” he said. And these secure foundations set agencies up for a successful cloud journey. Hear how the Army, Department of State, and GSA are also tackling cloud consolidation:
Puckett shared that the Army has been focused on cloud implementation and data center consolidation, but “the value of what cloud computing can provide the United States Army and its mission was somewhat being left behind,” he said. Now, the Army is diving into challenges that are faced in the day-to-day and exploring how the cloud can be used to scale and increase efficiency.
Wrege echoed Puckett sharing that the Department of State is consolidating with the cloud and is partnering with the private sector to make advancements. “We are using a variety of different cloud platforms,” she said. “We rebuilt everything and we also, as part of that process, looked at how we are doing business and using different technologies to make sure our data is more transparent to our users, that we can do more reporting, and that industry partners with us like they were never able to do before,” Wrege said.
Ashley Mahan with the GSA explained that partnering with industry is the key to successful cloud implementation. It’s vital that agencies look to trusted industry partners and each other for valuable cloud knowledge. “We just launched the FedRAMP agency liaison program which is designed to transform the way FedRAMP informs and collaborates with federal agencies,” she said. Prior to the program, agencies relied on group training and now, there is a dedicated team that focuses on knowledge sharing to provide resources and training to those on the cloud journey. From lessons learned to industry recommendations, this program provides agencies with suggestions for a path forward.
“I think COVID really launched the cloud and without cloud infrastructure, I don’t think we’d be able to operate as efficiently as we are today,” said Hamblin. Moving to the cloud enables agencies to be agile and scale, and this will continue to be vital in the future, he concluded.
Listen to the full panel The Federal Executive Forum’s Secure Cloud Computing in Government 2020.