INTEGRATING YOUR AGENCY CLOUD SOLUTIONS Research Brief
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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Everything ties back into a model where governance is of paramount importance, coupled with security.â&#x20AC;? Srinivas Singaraju, Senior Director of Cloud and Infrastructure, General Dynamics IT
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Executive Summary Cloud computing isn’t a new term to most public servants – whether they work in IT or not. But while most government employees have heard of cloud, fewer know all the benefits it can offer, why it’s necessary to meet mission objectives or – most importantly – how to incorporate it into agency processes and systems. To learn how agencies are currently using cloud technologies, GovLoop surveyed over 65 federal government employees, including chief information, technology, and security officers, IT directors and program managers involved in cloud purchasing decisions. We also asked them how their agencies planned to leverage different cloud models and services as they move forward. To analyze and offer context to those survey results, GovLoop interviewed three experts from General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT): • Ken Georgi, Vice President and General Manager of Civilian Solutions • Curt LeMar, Program Vice President of Cloud and Infrastructure • Srinivas Singaraju, Senior Director of Cloud and Infrastructure GDIT is a systems integrator with over 50 years of experience in the public sector. In this research brief, Georgi, LeMar and Singaraju explain why many federal agencies are turning to integrators to successfully architect diverse cloud solutions. The future of government will rely on cloud to provide scalability and agility in a secure way, without further straining technology, labor and budgetary resources. But to achieve those benefits, agencies can’t rely on single cloud solutions that apply a one-size-fits-all approach to unique needs. Instead, agencies must create unique architectures of hybrid and multi-cloud solutions. This research brief explains how agencies are using cloud computing technology today and how, with the help of systems integrators, they can achieve better outcomes with smart cloud architectures. 3 INTEGRATING YOUR AGENCY CLOUD SOLUTIONS
The State of Cloud in Government Particularly in federal government, cloud adoption seems to be on the rise. The budget for provisioned services is increasing each year, and policies are in place to encourage “cloud first” approaches to procurement. But while a broad view of government IT trends shows an increase in cloud adoption, a closer look shows a more scattered picture.
Drivers for Cloud Adoption
“Most statistics you see regarding federal cloud adoption are averages. In reality, you have some agencies that are already four or five years into cloud, and doing some pretty advanced things. But then you have others who are just getting started or aren’t there yet,” said Georgi.
Cost savings was the most cited reason survey respondents said their agency moved to the cloud (Figure 2). But according to GDIT’s experts, that’s only the tip of the cloudbenefit iceberg.
According to our survey of federal employees, 33 percent of agencies have already aggressively moved to the cloud, while 23 percent have only moved the bare minimum of their systems and services to cloud platforms, primarily due to government mandates (Figure 1).
Which of the following best describes your agency’s cloud strategy? 33% Aggressively moved systems to the cloud, including mission-critical systems when possible 44% Slowly but surely moving systems with fewer security/privacy concerns and less operational risk 23% Moving the bare minimum; if not for federal and agency mandates we would not be moving to the cloud at all
The reason for this disparity in adoption rates isn’t a lack of awareness regarding the benefits of cloud. In fact, most agency workers understand the potential for financial savings in the cloud.
“The big driver for most agencies is the cost savings – the idea of replacing large capital expenses with other, comparatively smaller operational expenses,” Singaraju said. “But, the big thing they discover along the way is an increased speed to market – how fast they can deliver their applications, and that’s faster than they’ve ever been able to do before.” In fact, many respondents did recognize these benefits, too. Thirty-six percent cited increased speed as another top driver in cloud adoption, while 32 percent noted increased scalability and 43 percent focused on flexibility benefits (Figure 2). Yet survey results also showed that their methods for achieving those gains weren’t clear.
What are your agency’s primary reasons for moving to cloud? (Select up to 3) 47% Cost Savings
“Most statistics you see regarding federal cloud adoption are averages. In reality, you have some agencies that are already four or five years into cloud, and doing some pretty advanced things. But then you have others who are just getting started or aren’t there yet.” Ken Georgi, Vice President and General Manager of Civilian
43% Increased Flexibility
36% Increased Speed
32% Increased Scalability
18% Legacy Systems reaching the end of their life
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Untapped Potential in Cloud For agencies already using cloud technologies, LeMar explained that many still have a learning curve when it comes to maximizing their investments. “When organizations move to cloud, they usually start by treating it like any other datacenter. They’re lifting and shifting applications without taking into account what cloud architectures can really do for them,” he said. The largest share (43 percent) of respondents said they used cloud computing for the basics of infrastructure-as-aservice, virtualized, network storage and compute resources (Figure 3). But these initial steps aren’t bringing the results many hoped. When asked about the success of their agency’s cloud migrations, only 21 percent of respondents said they completely achieved the scalability they hoped to with cloud (Figure 4). Additionally, only 25 percent said they achieved the development speed they wanted to attain (Figure 4).
To fully reap the rewards of cloud, agencies have to do more. “The next step is to really start leveraging the benefits of cloud – utilizing containers and platform-as-a-service to enhance speed to market and embrace new development and operational methodologies such as Agile and DevOps,” LeMar said. By using cloud platforms as scalable, agile and automated development environments, agencies spin up new applications quicker, at less cost. According to our survey, many agencies are starting to see that potential. Nearly 50 percent of respondents said they plan to use cloud for development within the next 12 months, with another 39 percent considering cloud for testing or quality assurance, and 41 percent looking at increasing office productivity through cloud (Figure 5). While the goal is clear, the path to orchestrating this dynamic cloud environment in government is less straightforward. As agencies begin to truly invest in cloud, they often hit policy and technology barriers like security and orchestration.
What model of cloud computing is your agency considering?
What use cases do you plan on leveraging a cloud computing model for in the next 12 months? (Check all that apply)
43% Virtualized network, storage and comput resources (IaaS) 30% Fully functional Application Software Packages (SaaS) 26% Agency-created applications using tools provided by Cloud Provider software (PaaS)
41% Office productivity (e.g. O365, GSuite, SharePoint)
To what degree has your agency’s cloud migration achieved the following goals? 6%
33% Disaster Recovery
33% Enterprise applications (e.g. HCM, ERP, SCM, CRM) 32% 31% Monitoring and application performance management
Not at all
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The Barriers to Government Cloud Adoption While there are clear benefits to pursuing cloud models in government, some agency leaders remain hesitant to continue – or even start – their cloud journey. According to our experts and survey respondents, the biggest barriers to cloud adoption were concerns over security, change control, budget predictability and vendor lock-in.
Security Unsurprisingly, the top concern among respondents was security (Figure 6). For some agencies, the simple idea of moving sensitive agency data into the cloud and off-premises is concerning. However, with a trusted, FedRAMP-approved cloud service provider, agencies can rest assured that their cloud infrastructure and its governance are secure.
Which of the following are concerns your agency may have when migrating to the cloud? (Select up to 3)
Nevertheless, agencies have to get there and navigating a successful migration to a secure cloud can be daunting. How do agencies ensure their information is securely transferred, in the correct formats with the right protocols?
Moreover, once agencies move to cloud environments, they often have to change their operations to adapt to new technologies. Operating cloud requires new management models and technology skills that resource-limited agencies may not have adequate time to cultivate. In fact, 32 percent of survey respondents said staff training was a concern in implementing cloud (Figure 6).
32% Staff Training
Lack of Control
26% Budget Predictability
Maintaining new cloud investments can also bring other operational challenges. Fifty-six percent of respondents said governance of cloud policies and use was a concern for their agency (Figure 6).
25% System Integrator Contractor capability
15% Cloud Vendor Lock
“One of the great things about cloud is how it enables DevOps and Agile based methodologies. It really gives the power to the developer,” Georgi said. “If a developer needs additional compute or storage, they can click and have it. But from a governance perspective, that can be scary. By empowering the developer, you can lose control if you don’t have proper controls around the technologies they’re implementing, the architectures they’re using, and how much money they are spending.”
“One of the great things about cloud is how it enables DevOps and Agile based methodologies. It really gives the power to the developer.” Ken Georgi, Vice President and General Manager of Civilian Solutions, GDIT
The agility of cloud computing helps users create the tools and applications they need to empower agency missions. Without proper controls in place, however, those changes can increase security and operational risk, while also negating the anticipated cost savings of cloud operations.
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Strong governance is also critical to producing the cost savings associated with cloud. Among survey respondents, more than one-quarter cited budget predictability as a concern to cloud adoption (Figure 6).
Finally, even when agencies feel comfortable navigating the new terrain of cloud operations, leaders are often reticent to commit to a single cloud provider or model for extended periods.
Cloud services are meant to scale with demand, allowing organizations to use only the compute and storage they need to maintain performance. But if agencies don’t adapt their expenditure models to that scalable environment, they can quickly find themselves spending more for services they don’t need. Alternately, if policies aren’t in place to govern individual department or employee use, budgets could quickly swell with unexpected increases in demand.
While cloud solutions are known for their flexibility in compute and storage provisioning, they can be difficult to fully remove or replace. Concerns over data ownership and migration costs often prevent agencies from fully embracing cloud – out of fear that they might not be able to carry their data with them if they eventually switch cloud providers. Moreover, if agencies adapt their IT infrastructure to vendorspecific configurations, they may find it difficult to integrate with other tools or switch to new cloud models. But despite these challenges, successful cloud adoption is achievable for government agencies. The key is to strategically address these concerns through thoughtful migration to hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
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The Benefits of Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Solutions The first step toward successful cloud adoption is choosing the right type of cloud model for your agency needs. The decision to go with a public, private or hybrid cloud depends on a number of criteria, including:
Some applications require a high level of security, so risk-averse agencies may be less likely to move those applications to a public cloud vendor.
Agencies may not understand how much data they are going to generate in the cloud, and therefore not achieve the expected cost savings. For example, if an agency has massive amounts of data residing in high-speed cloud storage, the cost of maintaining and accessing that data can be significantly greater than maintaining the data onsite.
• Data retention
Federal agencies typically have to retain data for longer periods of time, compared with private industry, because of federal transparency laws like FOIA or their own internal policies. In addition to the cost of storing it in the cloud, agencies need to consider long-term security of the data.
There are many other factors that may be unique to an agency’s mission and that must be considered when choosing the appropriate cloud model. For many agencies, hybrid cloud solutions are the best way to move toward new computing environments while addressing unique security and technical requirements. In fact, nearly two-thirds of respondents said their agency is using or planning to adopt hybrid cloud models in the next six months (Figure 7). Hybrid models allow agencies to mix and match different public, private and community clouds into a custom architecture. For agencies with disparate data sets, regulated by different security and proprietary concerns, this mixture helps accommodate their unique configuration needs. But hybrid cloud models don’t always provide enough flexibility for agencies. That’s why more agencies are starting to build multi-cloud environments, where multiple cloud vendors provide services for a single organization. According to survey respondents, 31 percent of agencies are already using a multi-cloud architecture, while an additional 34 percent are planning to migrate to multi-cloud options within the next six months (Figure 8).
To what degree is your agency currently pursuing hybrid cloud architectures?
To what degree is your agency currently pursuing multi-cloud architectures?
26% Actively utilizing a hybrid cloud architecture 34% Expect to migrate to a hybrid cloud architecture within the next 6 months 40% Do not expect to pursue a hybrid cloud architecture in the near future
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31% Actively utilizing a multi-cloud architecture 34% Expect to migrate to a multi-cloud architecture within the next 6 months 35% Do not expect to pursue a multicloud architecture in the near future
How Systems Integrators Move the Needle As agencies invest in cloud, they quickly learn that it isn’t as simple as selecting a cloud vendor and having them orchestrate a new computing environment. While these companies are experts at providing infrastructure, platforms, software and applications as a service to a wide range of organizations, they may not be as familiar with government, agency missions or the legacy IT architecture from which an agency is evolving. Plus, agencies investing in multi-cloud often need support to coordinate the migration and ongoing management of multiple vendors and solutions. That’s where having a systems integrator is invaluable. They can provide assistance across the lifecycle of cloud adoption – no matter what configuration an agency pursues. Thirty-one percent of respondents preferred a systems integrator to manage their cloud services, while an additional 26 percent said they would consider either an agency or systems integrator provided governance (Figure 9). That’s because integrators can provide smarter migrations, modern architectures, better governance and enhanced security.
What is your agency’s preferred contract model for managing cloud services? 34% Individual program contract with a Cloud Provider 31% System integrator provided managed services 26% System integrator or agency provided governance in a DevOps mode 9% Other
“It’s a matter of experience and understanding. GDIT, for instance, has several public cloud and private cloud implementations for a number of different agencies already in place. We’ve learned those lessons and can easily bring those to other organizations’ cloud strategies.” Curt LeMar, Program Vice President of Cloud and Infrastructure, GDIT
What would you like a systems ingegrator to manage for you? (Select top 3) 48% Developing a migration strategy
41% Security/continuous monitoring
31% Assessing the required computing, network and/or storage needs
31% Governance (cost control, change control, reporting, etc.)
31% Identifying and mitigating risks
24% Developing a cost optimization model
Smart Migrations Forty-eight percent of respondents wanted a systems integrator to help their agency craft a migration strategy (Figure 10). Systems integrators, like GDIT, can help agencies identify which applications and platforms would be best suited to cloud environments. “There’s this perception that you’re going to save so much more money over a traditional datacenter when you choose cloud, but that may not always be the case,” LeMar said. “Systems that have variable workloads or surges in use over time are much more economical in the cloud, whereas stable, constant use applications will see less benefit. Additionally, many legacy systems should be evaluated and re-factored to be cloud ready prior to migration.” Not only can integrators help determine which solutions should move to the cloud, they can also plan the migration to effectively make those changes. Experienced integrators often have already done similar cloud migration projects, and leverage their intellectual capital and property to speed up deployment time. Integrators also offer DevOps capabilities and automation to ensure that migration to or from private and public clouds flows seamlessly.
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As agencies migrate to cloud, an integrator can also help them determine how to connect multiple solution types in a single architecture without overcomplicating their IT environment.
Finally, systems integrators ensure that security is part of every component of an organization’s cloud strategy. “Not only do systems integrators understand the strategic aspect of developing organizational cloud strategies and operationalizing them, but we know how to enable the cloud journey of government agencies while conforming to standards like FedRAMP controls,” Singaraju said. “We not only can secure on our own private cloud environment, we also know how to leverage those controls in a public cloud or a mix of both.”
LeMar explained that many service providers dedicate themselves to maintaining the most up-to-date and sophisticated architectures. That’s a big help for agencies whose own strategies are often tied to legacy systems that don’t meet current demands. Systems integrators can determine what should be automated, and what should be regulated by IT administrators. They can also craft logical separations and controls to ensure that security is maintained across vendors and users alike. That helps agencies reap the flexibility and security of cloud while still maintaining operational control. “If you over-engineer your environment in terms of controls, you will negate a lot of the benefits of cloud.” Georgi said.
Better Governance Beyond maintaining flexible controls, systems integrators can also help agencies create ongoing policies to effectively govern cloud use. “We see agencies spend a lot of time debating if they should move to cloud, what they should move into the cloud, and what the cloud migration path looks like,” Georgi said. “But we see less thought given to how they will operate once they’re in the cloud. And if you think about it, that’s the most critical piece to get right.” LeMar agreed. “People really have to consider, ‘What kind of processes can I put in place to make sure that change control still occurs in this rapid environment? What kind of processes can I put in place to ensure that I’m not going over the resources and spending that I’m committed to, yet still maintain an agile methodology that doesn’t slow people down?’” he said. Systems integrators work closely with organizations to understand their specific regulatory requirements, budget constraints, computing needs and other considerations. Then, they craft and evolve governance policies to ensure that the benefits of cloud are sustained over time.
Thirty-one percent of survey respondents wanted the systems integrator to provide proactive support in identifying and mitigating risks to the cloud architecture (Figure 10). That’s because integrators can ensure migration is executed securely by taking a risk-based, holistic approach. Integrators can look at all data, applications and programs moving to the cloud and determine which to migrate in what order. Leveraging those considerations, integrators can re-architect services in a way that makes the transition seamless, ensuring maximum uptime and minimizing impact on employees and the public. Once deployed, systems integrators can also maintain security in cloud operations. Forty-one percent of survey respondents wanted security and continuous monitoring support from a systems integrator (Figure 10). Single vendors’ security controls often only extend as far as their unique cloud installation. In contrast, a systems integrator can monitor an entire array of cloud and on-premise solutions to fully understand the threat and regulatory landscape. Plus, systems integrators know what protocols and procedures will most effectively secure multicloud environments. “It’s a matter of experience and understanding,” LeMar said. “GDIT, for instance, has several public cloud and private cloud implementations for a number of different agencies already in place. We’ve learned those lessons and can easily bring those to other organizations’ cloud strategies.”
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Conclusion When it comes to cloud, there’s no doubt that it can provide significant cost savings and agility that government needs. The complexities of migrating to and managing diverse cloud solutions, however, can deter many agencies from reaping those rewards. That’s why many agencies are turning to systems integrators like GDIT to demystify their journey to cloud. “Everything ties back into a model where governance is of paramount importance, coupled with security,” said Singaraju. That’s what systems integrators provide. With expertise in IT, a detailed understanding of an agency’s current architecture and how it supports the mission and the ability to provide impartial assessments of the latest technology, systems integrators are uniquely positioned to assist agencies in developing the right cloud strategy that is tailored to the agency – not only for current needs, but to support future IT evolution in government.
With more than 10 years of experience providing cloud infrastructure and services to the government, General Dynamics IT helps agencies realize the true benefits of the cloud. General Dynamics IT applies mission knowledge with extensive integration experience to deliver secure and lowrisk cloud solutions, helping government agencies develop their strategy, migrate to and innovate in the cloud.
GovLoop’s mission is to “connect government to improve government.” We aim to inspire public-sector professionals by serving as the knowledge network for government. GovLoop connects more than 250,000 members, fostering cross-government collaboration, solving common problems and advancing government careers. GovLoop is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with a team of dedicated professionals who share a commitment to connect and improve government.
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