Apr 01 2022

Q&A: How Federal Agencies Can Benefit from 3 Emerging Cloud Trends in 2022

Intel’s Josh Hilliker reveals how the government can effectively migrate to the cloud without breaking the bank.

Cloud spending is increasing, with federal spending alone expected to rise from $6.6 billion in fiscal 2020 to $8.5 billion in 2023, according to Bloomberg Government. Beyond the basics of cloud storage, compute and scale, however, where are federal agencies best served by new investments? What’s on the horizon for cloud computing, and how can agencies benefit?

In a conversation with FedTech, Josh Hilliker, principal engineer and director for cloud solutions at Intel, discussed the top three cloud trends to watch in 2022.

FEDTECH:  What are the most important cloud trends that federal agencies need to know about?

Hilliker: There are three of them. First is multicloud, which is about finding the right cloud for the right workload. It’s also about thinking ahead to ask, where is this workload going to go? Where does it belong? What resources and services does it require?

Next is AI-driven application development. Models are changing, with an increased focus on reduced time to market and improved organizational value. To achieve these goals, agencies need speed and adaptability. This translates into the evolution of legitimate artificial intelligence that helps automate key processes and enable time to value. Further down the AI road are improved DevOps and microservices, which structure cloud-based applications as a collection of loosely coupled, independently deployable services to improve speed and scalability.

Scale — both up and out — is the third critical cloud trend in 2022. How do I scale things faster? How do I optimize cloud architectures? How do I eke out the last bit of performance? Agencies need to get the most out of an instance or service, without getting shocked by the bill.

Not everything needs to be in the cloud. Finding a balance is critical to delivering on scale without getting sticker shock. Intel is helping its federal customers achieve a balanced approach while optimizing their cloud architectures.

LEARN MORE: Explore how Intel can help you modernize your IT infrastructure.

FEDTECH: What steps can federal IT leaders take to effectively respond to these trends?

Hilliker: When it comes to multicloud, it’s about getting a better awareness of what workloads are running, how they’re operating and where applications are located. For example, while it’s easy to get data in, it can be expensive to get data out of applications at the fringe. Architecture and planning from Intel can help.

Robust benchmarking is also critical. Intel is doing a ton of it. From WordPress to Oracle to Java, we benchmark everything and can do it in the cloud. Even better? We’re now giving out our tuning guides for open source. While these were originally used for on-premises deployments, they’ll also work in Infrastructure as a Service environments. They offer details on how to run, how to set up and how to get optimal performance out of services. Put simply, benchmarking is now a north star for cloud success. Intel is helping agencies achieve this goal by sharing what we’ve optimized and what the agency can expect.

Finally, there needs to be a shift to embrace the concept of financial operations, or FinOps. Much like DevOps, FinOps is a mindset change: How do you do financial management of your cloud with more accountability?

At Intel, we have a whole team in IT that does just this, and we’re sharing our model. By combining finance and operations to get a real-time view of what’s happening — and what it costs — agencies are better prepared to identify ideal multicloud workloads, deliver on application development and assess opportunities for scale.

EXPLORE: What are the key federal IT trends to watch in 2022?

FEDTECH: What are some potential pitfalls along the way?

Hilliker: The biggest pitfall is making huge, sweeping public statements of moving entirely to the cloud. While this may seem like a good idea at the time, it’s an awkward conversation to have with stakeholders when agencies need to ratchet it back and adopt a slow-and-steady strategy.

Rather than going all-in, it’s a good idea to start with the end state in mind. Determine where cloud fits in your agency, what specific purpose it serves and what metrics you’re looking to achieve. Don’t do the blanket statements.

It’s also important to talk about risk. In the cloud, managing risk is critical as the sheer number of resources, solutions and services ramps up. Solving for risk means thinking about cloud security as an opportunity, rather than a hindrance. How do I protect data in transit? How do I ensure the right people have access to the right data? How do I defend my network and applications against malicious actors? By adopting a security-first strategy, agencies can more confidently adopt emerging trends and deliver on cloud potential.

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