White House Finalizes Cloud Smart Strategy
On June 24, exactly 10 months after it introduced a draft version of its new Cloud Smart strategy, the Office of Management and Budget released the final version of the plan. The policy will likely guide how agencies approach and adopt the cloud for years to come, and it emphasizes the need for them to rationalize their application portfolios as they modernize their IT infrastructure.
OMB presents Cloud Smart as a recalibration that reflects how the technology has evolved since the Obama administration’s Cloud First policy was formally introduced in 2011. The policy encourages federal agencies to use cloud where it meets their mission needs and conceive of cloud “as an array of solutions that offer many capabilities and management options to enhance mission and service delivery.”
Agencies should be “equipped to evaluate their options based on their service and mission needs, technical requirements, and existing policy limitations,” the policy states. Further, computing and technology decisions should also consider how users will be impacted, balanced against costs and cybersecurity risk management. Agencies must consider “the long-term inefficiencies of migrating applications as-is into cloud environments against the immediate financial costs of modernizing in advance or replacing them altogether.”
The policy notes that federal agencies will rationalize their application portfolios to drive federal cloud adoption. This will involve reducing their application portfolios by both “assessing the need for and usage of applications” and “discarding obsolete, redundant, or overly resource-intensive applications.” Agencies will then be free to focus on improving service delivery by optimizing their remaining apps.
The federal CIO Council will develop best practices and other resources to aid these efforts.
As Nextgov notes, the final version of Cloud Smart “includes a few subtle but significant changes from the draft.” It gives agencies a concrete definition of cloud, based on the five-point approach developed by the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Additionally, the policy makes clear that a cloud approach is not automatically and always the best one for agencies to use.
“Cloud adoption strategies that successfully meet the intent of Cloud Smart should not be developed around the question of who owns which resources or what anticipated cost savings exist,” the policy states. “Instead, agencies should assess their requirements and seek the environments and solutions, cloud or otherwise, that best enable them to achieve their mission goals while being good stewards of taxpayer resources.”