No matter the agency, automation tops every technology to-do list. Letting machines take care of rote, repetitive tasks has already streamlined customer service, cut down on routine paperwork and allowed security personnel to monitor systems in ways that prioritize significant events over minor ones.
Another task near the top of the list: cloud migration. That work is already underway at most agencies, spurred by the basic need to modernize antiquated technologies and by a major administration push to update cloud migration policy. In 2019 alone, agencies will migrate away from Windows 7 before support ends next year; refocus cloud migrations to make the end result more effective; continue data center consolidation; and establish working funds to pay for some modernization.
Automation and cloud migration pose challenges on their own, and when they come together, challenges multiply. For example: Automation often requires virtualization to work effectively. Virtualization expands the network, making its borders more difficult to define, as does migration to the cloud. That, in turn, requires a change of perspective for IT professionals, who must now focus security efforts on the data rather than the network.
Security, certainly, is not a new idea, but it is one that remains top of mind in the federal sphere. With more workers working remotely or out in the field with remote devices, secure data storage in the cloud is paramount.
Why Security Is Key in Cloud Migrations
CDW’s “Modern IT Infrastructure Insight Report” notes that 59 percent of organizations consider security a top factor in deciding whether to deploy apps on-premises or as a service.
“We’re moving away from a time where most security solutions were based on firewalls or designed for individual devices instead of applications,” David Gruber, vice president for product marketing at Carbon Black, states in the report. And here’s where the two government buzzwords — cloud and automation — meet: under the umbrella of a similar solution. Software-based networking and other next-generation architecture result in policies that follow the users, not the network, and that’s necessary for both automation and remote devices to work.
The Cloud Smart federal cloud computing strategy emphasizes how important it is for agencies to see and monitor their data to find malicious activity before it can do damage, and notes that agencies won’t be able to maximize the cloud’s potential unless they apply those security policies.
“Agencies will need to think in terms of intended outcomes and capabilities, not merely programs, in approaching security holistically,” the Cloud Smart strategy states.
VIDEO: HUD and GSA leaders discuss the factors that go into federal cloud migrations.
Flexibility Is Necessary for Agencies
That flexibility will be necessary as the federal government adapts to a new, modern way of working. One change or challenge may reveal more questions than anticipated, sending an agency down a path its workers don’t expect. Working in the cloud enables an agency to respond in a more agile way, keeping data under control while retaining the ability to innovate quickly.
Cloud managed services can assist, providing guidance when it comes to the big picture while letting agency IT staff focus on the moment.
As staff grow used to working in the cloud, such services can provide valuable support through the learning curve. Collaboration is key to getting technology in place, running so smoothly that citizens have no idea what’s behind an agency’s terrific service. In the end, modernization is no longer a destination. It’s a journey, and citizens will benefit.