Despite changes in government and a turnover in administrations, one thing remains the same: agencies are under pressure to improve citizen services while reducing costs. A key strategy to achieving this resulted in the “Cloud First” directive in 2011: a step to push agencies to the Cloud for the common good. It stated:
“for the Federal Government, cloud computing holds tremendous potential to deliver public value by increasing operational efficiency and responding faster to constituent needs.”
With each passing year, new challenges in this journey have emerged, including budget cuts, workforce transformation, and most recently, the challenges of cybersecurity. Since the OPM breach of 2015, there is no greater roadblock in the journey to the cloud than the risk of comprised data security. Agencies estimate that 32% of their data cannot be transferred to the cloud due to data security or sovereignty issues according to MeriTalk.
Nonetheless, federal and state agencies alike have pursued cloud strategies for compliance and cost savings. The state of Texas has been aggressive in its pursuit. State Representative Larry Gonzalez said,
“I realized how much money we were putting into servers, hardware, software; and the men and women providing those services. I realized right away that the cost of doing business for the state could be significantly less with the technology the cloud was offering us.”
More on the path Texas has taken can be read in my earlier blog post: A Lesson in Governing: Texas Pioneers a Path to the Cloud.
The path many agencies are taking to dealing with these risks is a prudent, methodical approach: hybrid cloud. A true hybrid approach offers agencies the ability to safely store confidential citizen data on premises, while moving public (non-critical) data repositories to the cloud. This model offers a win-win scenario – achieving cost savings over the long-term, while placing strong controls on data security and oversight.
The hybrid model also supports a gradual and practical shift in workforce transformation. Historic functions involving data center management, and system updates/refreshes require a specific set of job skills. The journey to the cloud, which entails a new set of functions, including IT consolidation, virtualization, workload management, data security, and strategic planning require vastly different expertise.
Compounding this challenge is that government agencies face a tough battle competing with the private sector for new talent. As such, they should consider a balanced approach in recruiting candidates with specialized skills externally, while training internal (tenured) employees to cover required skills over the short-term.
The burden of operations and maintenance cost is also a key factor. As a result of obsolete systems deployed decades ago, government agencies spent more than 75% of their IT budget on O&M investments in 2015 according to a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report. This circumstance can potentially limit agencies’ adoption of cloud technologies with less budget flexibility than previously planned.
With the emergence of big data and IoT fueling the need for cloud technologies in government, the challenge for agencies is selecting a technology partner that offers a custom and targeted approach. Due to an inherent lack of consistency in hybrid cloud models, Oracle has recently introduced the Oracle Cloud Machine to address this growing need.
Oracle Cloud Machine provides a stepping-stone in the journey to cloud, as it uniquely offers the advantages of a public cloud with less disruption and risk. As an on premises implementation of Oracle Cloud, agencies can run their applications seamlessly wherever they want, as workloads are completely portable between the public cloud and agencies’ own data centers.
Oracle Cloud Machine also helps agencies meet data sovereignty requirements with single vendor accountability. It addresses security concerns by protecting highly sensitive data and applications behind the firewall. Oracle Cloud Machine helps maximize agencies’ TCO between public and private cloud environments. It has been regarded as one of a few 4th generation hybrid cloud solutions by Wikibon.
With change regarded as business as usual, government needs a technology partner that can support the journey to the cloud today and be prepared for requirements that are on the horizon. Take a look at the IT Executive's Guide to Developing an Enterprise Cloud Strategy and the infowall below for more on hybrid cloud models.