The federal government’s 2019 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy — Cloud Smart calls for improvements in security, procurement and the workforce. Let’s look at each of the three Cloud Smart pillars to understand how agencies can successfully manage their cloud migrations.
Protecting government data requires carefully considering which datasets, applications, and workloads are or are not appropriate for the public cloud.
Protecting data is the responsibility of the agency, not the cloud service provider. AWS, for example, clearly states in its shared responsibility model it’s the users’ responsibility to secure their data, while they are responsible for managing the physical infrastructure.
This model makes it even more critical for agencies to implement proper security controls before data leaves on-premises environments. These steps could include implementing patch management solutions to address software vulnerabilities and managing user rights to control unauthorized employees or contractors from accessing data they’re not authorized to see.
Procurement and budgetary constraints have traditionally made it more difficult to deploy on-premises, hardware-based solutions and contributed to the growing shadow IT epidemic.
Cloud Smart recognizes the need for expedited procurement—a need borne out by a recent SolarWinds survey of its THWACK user community of more than 150,000 registered members.
When we asked users how long it typically took to get on-premises infrastructure set up, the common answer was two to three months to complete the paperwork and approvals, order hardware, accept delivery, identify a physical location for the new hardware, get it racked, networked, properly cooled, and powered.
Conversely, with the cloud, setting up a new application or infrastructure can be done in hours—if not minutes—with ready-to-go services from AWS, Microsoft, or Google.
Cloud Smart provides guidance on standards and approaches that can streamline and accelerate the procurement process without sacrificing security. The idea is to provide agencies with a quick turnaround in a world where everyone expects rapid results.
The processes championed by Cloud Smart can give public-sector agencies the chance to enjoy the primary benefits of the public cloud—greater scalability and flexibility—more quickly. With the cloud, agencies can spin up and tear down compute resources when they need them, giving them more agility and scalability to meet increased demand rather than procuring and installing physical infrastructure.
A January 2019 Gartner report predicted a significant shortage of experienced and trained cybersecurity experts by the end of 2020.
It’s important for agencies to ensure existing staff is properly trained in the basics of cloud cybersecurity and training is consistently refreshed. Staff should be always be learning about emerging tactics and threats. It’s often helpful to complement training with insights from outsiders who can share their cloud expertise.
While migrating systems to the cloud can give agencies the flexibility to easily scale their systems up and down to manage spikes in demand, they must focus on Cloud Smart’s three key pillars of security, procurement, and workforce to ensure a smooth, secure move to the cloud.
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