Jun 22 2023

When Cloud Just Isn’t Feasible

Agencies looking for the most cost-effective way to deliver a quality end-user experience might consider a hybrid model.

Agencies re-evaluating their relationships with the cloud must remember that what they’re really looking for is the most cost-effective way to deliver a quality end-user experience to citizens and warfighters. A hybrid cloud model can guarantee that federal employees have access to data in the office, at home and on their phones.

The government mandated cloud options for agencies’ workloads prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which accelerated migrations in many cases. In the chaos of the crisis, some federal IT leaders forgot to ask why they wanted their data in the cloud in the first place.

Agencies adopted Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud solutions because they were seen as the answer to government’s cloud requirement. However, what they really wanted was the cloud end-user experience, regardless of whether some workloads remained on-premises.

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The Cost of Cloud Should Be Agencies’ First Concern

Many companies born in the cloud have realized they need to go hybrid to ensure their business model is sustainable. Similarly, some agencies that raced to the cloud at the height of the pandemic are finding the cost to be too high.

The decision of where a classified, mission-critical system should reside is primarily financial. Does it matter that an agency’s equipment sits in a brick-and-mortar data center owned by Equinix? Only if the cloud would be a cheaper option.

Cloud environments sprawl more easily than those controlled by an agency’s IT or contracting shop because industry providers won’t necessarily limit service when it extends beyond what customers require. The result: Agencies might overpay by millions of dollars.

If an agency can provide data everywhere it’s needed from a hybrid environment hosted by a third party, colocated, rented out of a data center or in the agency’s own facility, it owes it to the taxpayer to explore all options.

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Other Hybrid Cloud Considerations

Security and talent must also be considered when embracing a hybrid cloud model.

Practitioners should determine the function of the workloads they’re provisioning and the sensitivity of the data before placing it anywhere. Migrating data is a great opportunity for an audit to ensure that anything wrongly included in a pandemic-era IT environment doesn’t remain there.

READ MORE: Why you should establish a cloud center of excellence.

Hosted cloud solutions from large providers used to have all the technical talent, but that dynamic is changing. With large tech companies instituting hiring freezes or layoffs, no one has an aggressive hiring plan in 2023. This gives agencies an opportunity to bring on the talent they need to operate and maintain a hybrid cloud model.

Agencies will continue to turn to the largest cloud providers, but that’s just one way to deliver a quality end-user experience. Companies that can help agencies adopt a multicloud, hybrid or on-premises model offer the best of all worlds and can recommend environments that are case-specific.

This article is part of FedTech’s CapITal blog series.

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Cecilio Ricardo / U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service

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