Feb 03 2020

3 Things Government Can Learn About Cloud from the Private Sector

Federal IT leaders can take best practices from the corporate world to create lasting yet flexible IT infrastructure.

Throughout the last decade, cloud technology has upended the way organizations look at IT infrastructure and management, engendering a shift in the way data is stored and transferred. Fast forward to 2020, however, and many private organizations are determining that rather than a complete move to the cloud, a hybrid infrastructure composed of both cloud and on-premises data infrastructure might be better suited to their needs. 

Nutanix’s 2019 Enterprise Cloud Index found that 85 percent of organizations in the private sector are considering shifting their investments to hybrid cloud architectures, while 73 percent are moving some apps from the cloud back to on-premises infrastructures. 

As the public sector also engages in the process of assessing the best approach to cloud deployments, it stands to benefit from a number of lessons revealed by private sector organizations that have already made such decisions. By carefully considering these three key learnings, public sector IT leaders will be better equipped to build lasting yet flexible IT infrastructure at their respective organizations

1. Don’t Take a One-Size-Fits-All Cloud Approach

One of the most common pitfalls organizations experience is viewing the cloud as a “one size fits all” solution. As a result, many organizations that have conducted an audit of their workloads and applications have ended up repatriating some of their data, bringing back on-premises what had once been moved to the cloud.

By the same token, many organizations have found themselves bogged down by long-term cloud contracts, which can prove to be a strain on resources and productivity when organizations pay for capacity they don’t actually need. While an audit is in itself an investment, it allows for agencies to take a more measured approach in their cloud deployments, hybrid models and approaches to subscriptions. 

So, how can agencies go about determining what belongs where? The more dynamic applications, which can see dramatic spikes in usage or unpredictable activity are best suited for public cloud hosting, while more static applications that see consistent workloads are better on-premises.

While maintaining infrastructure for the former can be a costly endeavor, the latter applications don’t require as much effort or resources to maintain, and you won’t be stuck paying for capacity that is only needed some of the time. One alternative model that both private and public sector organizations alike have adopted are subscription service contracts, which help organizations avoid overcommitting and remain agile, an essential characteristic for a successful IT program. 

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Discover how to determine how applications will perform in the cloud before migrations. 

2. Consider Adopting an Edge Computing Framework

Many in the private sector, including those in energy, healthcare and retail, are utilizing the power of edge computing to maximize the efficiency of their networks. Organizations operating within these verticals have come to value the edge paradigm because it enables the reduction of latency on time-sensitive applications and helps maintain performance to Internet of Things devices and mobile terminals in low-bandwidth environments. 

Federal agencies with similar network challenges, those that use a high number of mobile terminals, for example, should also consider adopting an edge framework. In doing so, they can be sure that critical systems in the field operate as needed, when needed, preventing costly disruptions that would otherwise keep them from fulfilling their agencies’ objectives. 

READ MORE: Discover how feds can benefit from edge computing. 

3. The Cloud Security Journey Never Ends

In the private sector, security remains the most influential factor determining organizational cloud strategies. Our data shows that 60 percent of respondents reported that the security of cloud technologies would have the biggest influence on future cloud deployment plans. This is hardly surprising to see, given the increasing prevalence of costly security incidents at organizations large and small. Facing increasingly more sophisticated and frequent cyberattacks, organizations are learning that security is not something that can be mastered and set aside but rather must be handled on an ongoing, proactive basis in a constant effort towards improvement. 

In the public sector, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program has become the de facto standard of security certifications for organizations hoping to do business with the federal government. But vendors and agencies alike must understand that FedRAMP certification, while critical, cannot be viewed as a final destination. Rather, achieving FedRAMP certification and working with products that have received those certifications should be viewed as an essential first step in the never-ending effort to remain secure. 

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Follow the 5 R’s of rationalization for an effective cloud migration.

Future-Proof Infrastructure for the Road Ahead

Technology is constantly changing and advancing, and what works today is not always what is best for tomorrow — which is why flexibility wherever possible in federal IT is an advantage

In order to be an effective IT leader, it’s essential to take a nuanced approach and conduct a thorough audit to understand exactly what your organization needs out of its IT infrastructure. 

By learning from the past experiences of private sector organizations with similar IT needs and goals, federal IT professionals can build better, longer-lasting IT infrastructure that will continue to serve the needs of their organizations both today and in the future.

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