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Assessing Your Agency’s Cloud Readiness

Level 11

By Omar Rafik, SolarWinds Senior Manager, Federal Sales Engineering

Here’s an interesting article by my colleague Brandon Shopp about the government’s renewed interest in cloud. He offers considerations to help improve agency readiness and prepare for eventual migration.

A recent report regarding the modernization of Federal Information Technology (IT), coordinated by the American Technology Council (ATC) in 2017, called for agencies to “identify solutions to current barriers regarding agency cloud adoption.”

Couple the report with the White House draft release of a new “Cloud Smart” policy, which updates the “Cloud First” policy introduced in 2010 based on where technology and agencies are today, and once again cloud becomes a primary focus for federal IT pros.

Moving to a cloud environment can bring well-documented advantages, including flexibility, the potential for innovation, and cost savings. Agencies certainly seem to be heading in that direction. According to the 2018 SolarWinds IT Trends Report, IT professionals are prioritizing investments related to hybrid IT and cloud computing.

• 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

That said, barriers may still loom for many federal IT pros. Factors such as current workloads, data center capacity, and the type of applications being used can all affect an agency’s preparedness for a move to the cloud.

How do you know if your agency is ready for cloud adoption?

The Bottom Line

Every agency should be ready to begin assessing its current IT environment and consider starting the journey.

To use an appropriate cliché: there’s no silver bullet. The secret is to move slowly, carefully, and realistically.

Start by examining and completely understanding your infrastructure, applications, and interdependencies. Consider your data center complexity.

Finally, if you’ve made the decision to move to the cloud, how do you know which applications to move first? This decision is easier than it may seem.

There are three primary considerations.

Size – Look at the amount of data your applications accumulate and the amount of storage they take up. The potential for cost savings can be far greater by moving data-heavy applications into the cloud.

Complexity – Consider keeping your most complex, mission-critical applications on-premises until you’ve moved other applications over, and you understand the process and its implications.

Variable usage – Nearly every agency has some applications that experience heavy use during very specific and limited time periods. These are good targets for early migration, as a cloud environment provides the ability to scale up and down; you only pay for what you use. For the same reasons, applications requiring batch processing are also good candidates.

The GSA’s Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) Program Management Office published a whitepaper specifically designed to help agencies with cloud migration. Called “Cloud Readiness: Preparing Your Agency for Migration,” the paper provides strategies for successful migration, including security needs, conducting inventories in advance of migration, and much more about cloud computing solutions for government agencies.

Conclusion

Migrating to a cloud environment is neither quick nor simple; it requires a great amount of time and effort. That said, it’s a project worth undertaking. My advice: perform exhaustive research, make informed decisions, and take it slowly. This strategic, intentional approach will provide the best results for your migration journey—flexibility, opportunities for innovation, and high levels of cost savings.

Find the full article on our partner DLT’s blog Technically Speaking.

The SolarWinds trademarks, service marks, and logos are the exclusive property of SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC or its affiliates. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

13 Comments
smttysmth02gt
Level 13

Thanks for the article!

brianj
Level 12

I have worked with several DoD sites that don't even have virtual machines yet. They are a LONG way from implementing cloud computing!

vinay.by
Level 16

Thanks for the article!

bobmarley
Level 15

Thanks for the write up!

pgaryga
Level 10

We are being steered by the UK government's cloud first policy. I'll be honest I have little passion for it. Perhaps I like to be in control too much?

david.botfield
Level 13

Thanks for the article

pgaryga
Level 10

We are at the start of this journey.

mtgilmore1
Level 13

I concur.  Beginning the journey.

rschroeder
Level 21

Use caution; the cart must never be placed in front of the horse.  One might better spend time determining IF cloud-based solutions meet the needs of security and high availability before spending resources analyzing an agency's compatibility with the cloud.

We moved much to the cloud and have experienced hardware and Internet circuit limitations that were not expected.  Worse, controlling and managing security and access (physical and logical) in cloud resources are not something customers are capable of controlling.  And in an environment of control freaks protecting corporate resources, not being able to prove someone else's computer (that's what the cloud IS) is physically and logically secure is a hard thing to get past.  It's like saying "Just accept that Layer One and Layer Two are working fine, and concentrate only Layers Three and higher."  That's not the way we have been trained to work, nor will that philosophy always hold water.

petergwilson
Level 14

Last place I was working at decided to get an external company in to assess our cloud readiness.  Of course they didn't ask anyone in IT.  The project was called the "Cloud Readiness Assessment Project - Yep, they didn't spot the acronym.  They came in, did whatever they did and we all were invited to a meeting where they presented their results.  It was interesting that about 25% of the applications were listed as NOT being able to run in the could.  I then took great pleasure in confirming that these 25% that were ALREADY running in the cloud couldn't run in the cloud.  There was a silence only broken by my suggestion that we shouldn't pay them.

jkump
Level 15

Great article.  But, I agree that we need to consider all the aspects and in particular what we are willing to give up to gain the advantages of the cloud.

neoceasar
Level 11

Thanks for the post.  One thing we always review with clients is data residency, there isn't as much of a concern for availability anymore as data centers are more available in different countries, but sometimes is required to setup for the data to reside in a specific country.  Depending on the Organization they may only allow certain data in the cloud.

fmasotti
Level 12

thanks for the article