Cloud has become an accepted, and even necessary, part of government IT strategy. Policies like FedRAMP, and now the recently released FedRAMP High protocol, are helping agencies standardize on security and compliance, and estimates suggest that cloud could save the U.S. government nearly $20 billion. Even more, plans for a Cloud Services Portfolio could further support agencies in their move to cloud.
Today, many existing hardware solutions are approaching their end of life; over the next several years, the rate of cloud migrations will increase dramatically. As the volume, variety, and velocity of cloud increases, the time is ripe to re-think agency guidelines for secure and effective cloud migrations.
- Consider Your Applications
Servers and cloud platforms are written with the high nines of availability in mind, but this is not always the case with agency applications. Make sure your cloud infrastructure is not only compatible with your apps, but ensure your solution simplifies inheriting the underlying stability.
- Define What You Want to Move to the Cloud
When planning the move to the cloud, it’s important to develop a clear definition of the content moving over. Is your organization looking to move data, replicate machines, provide disaster recovery, or are you looking to achieve a different type of goal? Once the type of move is defined, the choices concerning tactics and tools become much clearer.
- Categorize What’s Moving to Cloud
A recent VMware article posed an interesting question – are you moving cattle or pets to the cloud? Cattle have a “similar operating level assigned to them, the maintenance of these workloads is performed predominantly by the central IT operations team, and they are upgraded, patched, and generally managed in the same way.” Pets, on the other hand, require a higher touch and more day-to-day attention. Defining if your organization is dealing with pets or cattle can help answer the question of what type of cloud strategy your organization needs.
- Plan for Capacity and Growth
While clouds are more flexible and elastic by nature – a driving benefit of the platform – IT teams cannot ignore the inevitability of future growth needs and capacity spikes when choosing platforms and architectures. A lack of resources can be costly, challenging, and time-consuming to resolve after a system is in place. It’s far more efficient and effective to plan for growth from the initial cloud adoption stages.
- Remember Maintenance
Just like any other IT tool, clouds need to be maintained and the service optimized over the life of use. Managing logs, routine checks, and accessibility should be done regularly; even more, it’s a smart idea to thoroughly document any changes or errors to help resolve future issues more quickly. Building in testing and maintenance into general support plans can help your agency develop and maintain a proactive and efficient cloud platform.
- Tie in a Disaster Recovery Strategy
Building in extra layers of security and protection to your cloud is always a wise option. Safeguarding your mission-critical data and applications is easier than once thought. VMware’s vCloud Air Disaster Recovery service provides self-service disaster recovery protection as well as a dependable failover SLA that can help you retrieve critical data and information.
- Assess Identity and Access Management
Where and how people, especially privileged users, access cloud services and infrastructures is a drastically different process than traditional IT systems. In most cases, the way that identity and access management is built in should address these inherent differences, but it’s crucial to understand the differences to ensure secure cloud computing.
Cloud adoption will undoubtedly continue in the public sector over the next several years. To learn more about where cloud is heading and more expert tips for adoption, check out the articles and resources available in our Innovation in Government Report: Government Transition to the Cloud with GCN.