Building out a cloud-like experience is a crucial part of an agency’s ability to adapt to advances in technology, security, mobility, and ultimately, to improve how it delivers services and enable its mission.The IT team plays a critical role in these efforts by not only leading the transition to the cloud but also by offering continued support, such as monitoring the changing needs of organizations; deciding on solutions to reduce cost and improve efficiencies; and developing the skill sets of public service employees tasked with operating within the new model.
The Role of IT – Because One Size Does Not Fit All
Establishing a Common Platform
When it comes to cloud technology for government agencies, one size does not fit all. So it’s important to empower IT teams to play a central role in the transition – and beyond. Moving workloads is not as easy as just flipping a switch. The process should be undertaken from the bottom up, gradually becoming more advanced.
Ideally, agencies would first establish a software defined cloud foundation for compute, storage and networking in their on-premise environments – in central IT or across departments – which has the ability to easily extend to the cloud. This progression from provider of IT infrastructure to a Broker of IT Services requires a disciplined analysis of people, process and technology in the current and desired future state. This includes profiling the agency’s workload and required certifications. Basically, IT teams must understand the agency’s performance-level expectations: they need to know what’s going to be easily transitioned into a cloud type of environment and what’s not.
Managing Cloud-Based Technology
Historically, if an organization went to a public cloud provider, it was effectively stuck there. Today, however, as tech companies such as VMware, AWS, IBM and others form partnerships, agencies now have the ability to move between cloud services as needed – from their on-premise environment to a public cloud and then back again seamlessly – for work or security purposes.
Seasonality is a good example of what might prompt a temporary move. Let’s say an application sits in an agency’s on-premise data center during a certain time of the year but isn’t critical at another time; it can be moved to a lower-cost environment sitting somewhere in the cloud. Later, IT teams have the ability to move it back and forth as needed, seamlessly and securely.
How do agencies know where and when to move workloads? Again, IT teams should take the lead in guiding those decisions and brokering services, deciding which cloud will enable the same user experience and level of security but with cost-effectiveness in mind.
Enhancing Skill Sets of Employees
With the proliferation of the cloud, the challenge now is less about technology and more about people & the supporting process. That’s because, in general, government organizations have had trouble keeping pace with the depth of bench strength commercial customers can afford. As a result, state and local agencies continually strive to come up with new ideas to educate, motivate and enhance their organizations’ current staff members, who will have a considerably broader role in a cloud-based environment than they had in a traditional IT shop. Agencies must develop a deliberate plan – one that involves both formal and on-the-job training – to keep current staff motivated and excited to learn new skills and embrace the changes taking place across the IT industry.
With the expanding skill sets of IT organizations, it is also critical to adopt new processes that improve the experience for IT customers. IT must be agile enough to keep pace with evolving agency demands while still providing a secure, transparent experience to their customers. Defining the compute, storage and network infrastructure through software – and decoupling from hardware dependency – provides the highest level of flexibility and security on-premise and across any cloud.
Enabling Mission Success
Agencies have access to more efficient and cost-effective cloud-based solutions than ever before to enable their mission success. Transitioning to the right system, however, requires an understanding of the agency’s performance-level expectations and other requirements as well as a thoughtful process for building out the cloud experience from the bottom up. IT teams should take the lead in establishing and maintaining these agile cloud-based technologies while investing in the committed public servants who use them.
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