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Federal Government Migration to the Cloud - Where We're Going

Federal Government Migration to the Cloud - Where We're Going

Federal Government Migration to the Cloud – Where We’re Going

March 14, 2016 – Even as commercial and Federal entities, and individuals alike, every day become better and better IT experts, within the Federal government, mission is king. Any way to drastically minimize distraction by avoiding management of complex and constantly changing infrastructure, cut costs by adopting tried and true solutions, and increase the effectiveness of tools by making them more intuitive and responsive to technology trends—except where security restrictions prohibit—is obviously desirable. But there are key considerations to keep in mind when approaching a Cloud adoption strategy. Some are fairly well known and have plagued Federal Cloud adoption rates for years, and others are often overlooked.

The most obvious concern is of course security, something the Federal government is looking to address with its consolidated FedRAMP process. At this point, in early 2016, FedRAMP is not yet the universal standard it will likely become. Many Cloud Service Providers have complained that the system is currently “bogged down” due to the rapid influx and backlog of candidates in line for certification. But rest assured, the Office of Management and Budget will make strides in the near future to increase transparency and reduce the cost of continuous monitoring, among other measures to decrease the cost and timeline of going through this process. Due to these struggles however, FedRAMP certification should not yet be considered a prerequisite when picking a Cloud vendor. Vendors that are either in the process and/or sponsored for FedRAMP certification or that feature legitimate Cloud-oriented security experience and a consistent track record are a must.

Another, often overlooked, consideration is cost and flexibility. It is fairly common to assume that the Cloud is an instant money saver that comes with little to no risk. And with a well-informed and managed approach, this should be the case. But it is vitally important to take into consideration the esoteric nature of designing a Cloud solution that is right for your specific environment. During the adoption process, it’s possible that you won’t know exactly what sort of solution will best suit your IT environment—including security and convenience concerns. One way to mitigate this risk is to include within proposal requests and contracts, a trial period or pilot program. A pilot program, capably implemented before any actual work is performed will test for stress factors and help you decide the level of Cloud adoption that is most beneficial to you and your organization. This additionally mitigates the financial risk of being beholden to a single vendor who may charge data export or exit fees.

A vendor capable (both in the pilot and final project) of weighing, planning, and implementing a complex and thoroughly individualized solution—which will likely include some iteration of a hybrid Cloud—is essential. A criminally under looked feature offered by some cloud vendors are Cloud exchanges. Cloud exchanges allow customers to mix and match Cloud applications and services from a number (often hundreds) of different vendors, thus more or less eliminating the risk associated with throwing in your lot with a single vendor.