FITARA, MGT, the latest IT Executive Order: all of these mandates underscore the same theme – our current approach to government IT isn’t working. Agencies are spending 80% of their IT budgets maintaining legacy systems. As data volumes skyrocket, cyber security threats proliferate, and employees and constituents demand near real-time access to information, this model is simply not sustainable.
As agency CIOs work to transition to a modern infrastructure that is more secure and efficient while reducing duplicative, costly IT systems, all roads seem to lead to the cloud. But, the journey isn’t always easy. Obviously, not all workloads are suitable for public cloud consumption. And, even for those that are, challenges abound in classifying, protecting, and migrating data. Most agencies are deploying multi-cloud environments – some combination of public, private, and hybrid clouds – to address their unique needs while still enabling them to benefit from improved information sharing, innovation, and “anytime, anywhere” access.
As agencies make the transition to a multi-cloud environment, here are three things they need to consider:
1) Is Our Infrastructure Modern and Ready?
As agencies transition to a multi-cloud approach, they must ensure the technology and underlying infrastructure in their current data centers is modern and ready for transformation. Agencies cannot layer cloud technology on top of an existing infrastructure that is not designed to work well in a cloud environment.
To get there, the underlying data center architecture must be cloud-native, scalable, resilient, and trusted, so agencies can deliver services to their users that are relevant and secure. In addition, it needs to seamlessly interoperate with and perform like public cloud offerings from Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and others, as well as be able to support new cloud aware applications and workloads.
Finally, agencies need to keep inevitable scale in mind. Infrastructure should be modular – so it can start small and scale at web speed. It should be built to support both legacy and newly developed applications, while fully integrating with the agency’s software-defined cloud management strategy.
2) How Can We Evaluate and Transform our Applications?
Agencies adopting a multi-cloud approach must match their mission critical workloads to the most optimal environment based on mission characteristics. Accomplishing this requires deep analysis and rationalization of current applications and the optimization or re-platforming of applications for their desired target environment.
By assessing the legacy environment, agencies can quickly determine which applications can immediately move to their ideal cloud environment so they can shift their focus to the larger roadmap of application migration efforts that will require new application development or a complete re-write. This rationalization process aligns with agencies’ data center consolidation efforts. They must right-size their on-premises cloud infrastructure as they plan their public or off-premises cloud strategy.
The second part of a successful application transformation requires the adoption of agile DevOps methodologies and platforms. Agencies should seek integrated, turnkey solutions that incorporate developer tools with engineered solutions built for multi-cloud, so they can develop and deploy agile, modern applications built to run in a multi-cloud environment, moving to an agile model of continuous code delivery.
3) Are Our Processes and People Up to the Task?
Finally, the most critical aspect agencies need to address is transforming and automating their current IT processes and service delivery.
As agencies move away from siloed IT services and toward a software-defined infrastructure that is more agile, they need more integration between teams. This requires identifying new roles and swim lanes, as well as developing new skill sets. Many multi-cloud service delivery efforts falter because of improper planning and implementation of new processes end-to-end – from the end-user to the IT stakeholders to the Cloud Management Platform.
Agencies can’t put new technologies and services in place to protect an old way of doing business; they must develop a new operating model that allows them to manage multiple infrastructure offerings as one single set of services. Success depends on an organization’s ability to plan with this future organizational state as the end goal, and to partner with IT delivery partners who can help them get there.
Multi-Cloud, Multiple Benefits
Today’s Federal Agencies, when evaluating suitable cloud solutions recognize there are a wide variety of capabilities available across the various cloud service providers. As a result, many agencies are adopting a multi-cloud approach to gain the flexibility to match workloads and applications to targeted cloud environments that will optimize performance and capacity and drive down costs. This is the greatest benefit of multi-cloud. By addressing the modernization of infrastructure, adopting sound application transformation strategies, and developing new ITSM processes, multi-cloud can provide greater visibility to what’s running where and what they need to effectively support their programs within required timeframes.
Agencies that adopt these multi-cloud models and effectively modernize infrastructure, transform people and processes that support multi-cloud IT models, and rationalize applications to retire, re-build, replace, or migrate their applications become more relevant to the missions they support. What used to take months can now be delivered in days and hours or even minutes, which truly delivers on the promise of transforming government.
By: Diane Santiago, Director, Federal Presales Engineering, Converged Platforms & Solutions Division, Dell EMC