Best Practices for Government Agencies Moving Data to the Cloud
For many years, governments have felt that the cloud and infrastructure as a service were not options for them. Governments tended to be unwilling to surrender control of their data to private cloud providers. They lacked confidence in cloud security since they are responsible for handling so much sensitive data that may contain private information about constituents or even matters of intelligence.
Acceptance of the Cloud
Governments at all levels are finding that today’s cloud infrastructure can provide the balance of security, immediate availability, and accessibility that governments require. Overall, industry today spends an average of 20.4 percent of their IT budgets on the cloud. Governments are currently matching that figure. Local governments average spending 20.6 percent and National governments spend 22 percent of their IT budgets on IaaS in the cloud. Government spending on the cloud will probably grow at the rate of 17 percent or so over the next three years.
Preparing the Workforce
One of the largest things hurdles in the Cloud Migration process for government agencies is not a technical issue at all – it’s a workforce preparedness issue. Enquizit, Inc. is an Amazon Web Services (AWS) advanced consulting partner with extensive experience designing, developing and managing mission critical applications for Government, Education, and Commercial clients. Vice President of Business Development Gustavo Costa says, “The non-technical problems, challenges, and preparation is far more important than the technology itself.” Costa notes that many workers in the government have been in place for a long time and face a steep learning curve. The government has traditionally been slow to adopt new technologies and it creates unique challenges for their aging workforce when it comes to maintaining new cloud-based platforms.
Concerns and Hesitations
Governments have three major concerns that are holding back faster adoption of the cloud. They are concerned about security and privacy issues, lack of needed features, and being contractually and functionally locked into a single vendor. Data sovereignty is also a major concern of governments. Many governments are reluctant to have their data stored on servers outside of their borders.
Therefore governments are implementing private clouds twice as fast as public clouds. This is true in spite of the fact that private clouds can’t deliver the same benefits of scale, functionality, cost savings, or agility as public clouds. Less than 5% of private clouds used by governments actually have the full characteristics of clouds. The difference in functional potential between public and private clouds is getting bigger as well.
- Start small. Start your transition to the cloud on a small project basis. Choose an application with a limited scope to conduct a pilot program. Analyze the results and apply them to the solution on a larger scale. Also, conduct a risk assessment. Assess the network and the IT infrastructure of your agency as a precursor to material planning.
- Establish a link to industry. Experts in the industry can provide a better understanding of what is available and which options are right for your specific needs and goals. Learn about the security options and consider different approaches for services that interface with the public and systems with sensitive and classified information.
- Only pay for what you need. On-premises data centers require large upfront costs for hardware and software. Equipment needs to be upgraded continuously and costs can be unpredictable. If you use an IaaS system, capital expenses are eliminated. There is no need to pay for the real estate to house hardware and energy to cool servers.
- Eliminate silos. Governments often suffer from siloed organization. Even though government services often distribute themselves over several departments and functions, they are often broken into organizational segments. As far as data management is concerned, each segment will make use of its own IT resources escalating costs. Obtaining a complete picture of function using a complete data set is virtually impossible. Without a 360-degree of information, agencies can’t solve larger problems. Unified data storage in a cloud-type system can allow unlimited cross-sectional views.
- Clearly understand security and privacy end goals. It is critical that agencies understand the shared responsibility model of IT security and choose an cloud platform like AWS with standardized on-going security protocols. AWS Premier Partners, like Enquizit, know that understanding the platform’s unique security measures, investing in employee training, utilizing proper endpoint security solutions, and establishing/enforcing cloud security policies are all critical pre-migration best practices. Utilizing intrusion detection and prevention technologies as well as conducting regular audits and penetration testing will reduce risk even more. The ongoing security protections offered by public cloud computing will often mean organizations actually have fewer security issues with their cloud-based workloads than with those that run in their traditional data centers.
Enquizit offers cloud migration services, application development and transition consulting services helping organizations achieve their mission objectives through application modernization and cloud transformations. Please contact us to learn more.