How government agencies can transition from cloud first to cloud by design

Cloud by design can help agencies navigate hybrid cloud to control costs, maximize performance, and ensure security.

Cloud by design can help agencies navigate hybrid cloud to control costs, maximize performance, and ensure security.

During the height of the pandemic, many federal IT leaders migrated key workloads and apps to the public cloud to support the shift from cloud first to cloud smart and to facilitate new requirements such as working from home. At the time, speed and capability were more important than perfection, yet today, it’s clear that this approach has introduced high levels of complexity, inefficiencies, and even budgetary and security concerns.

Many agencies now struggle with multiple cloud and storage services spread across multiple cloud hosting environments. While public cloud promises cost-efficiencies and ease of management, that isn’t the case for all workloads, which may have resulted in skyrocketing data egress costs, poor performance and security or compliance complications.

Today, it’s critical that agencies reassess and gain control over their existing applications and environments and develop an overarching strategy to modernize, implement proper governance, and execute on their digital transformation plans.

An effective hybrid “cloud by design” strategy can help agencies balance cost and performance between on-premise cloud infrastructure and public cloud resources, and make careful, strategic decisions about how and where to store their sensitive data.

Hybrid cloud by design

A hybrid cloud by design approach means taking an in-depth look at an IT environment to see where each workload makes the most sense. Some cloud-native apps are well suited to public cloud while some will benefit from the capabilities of vendor-specific clouds. Others may be better suited to a private cloud or co-location environment.

  • Cloud-native apps are easier to move to public cloud. Consider doing this for workloads that are lightweight in terms of compute, memory and storage requirements. Another important consideration is whether those workloads have dependencies on other workloads and how that might affect cost, performance and security.
  • Older legacy workloads that are essential to running an organization — such as a custom ERP system or complex data warehouse solution— tend to be large consumers of data, network and compute resources and may be better off on-prem.
  • Integration is critical to moving data back and forth and understanding which protocols that workloads share.

The R’s of hybrid cloud

A hybrid cloud by design strategy involves deciding what to do with workloads. As a chief information officer, chief technology officer or agency leader, here are some questions to ask about each of the R’s — a framework first developed by Gartner — that make up a hybrid cloud architecture:

Rehost (lift and shift to a new environment): Do we have end-of-life equipment or a need to vacate a data center? If so, should we lift and shift workloads to a new private cloud on-premises or in a co-location environment, or should we consider migration to a public cloud?

Revise (lift and shift and alter): Can we get the workloads up and running with only minor changes in a new environment?

Rearchitect (alter or refactor the code): Is it possible to alter the code or containerize the existing application for deployment on native public cloud, making legacy apps more like cloud-native apps? Do we have the technical expertise?

Rebuild (rewrite from scratch for cloud native): Do we have the expertise to rewrite and rebuild? Are the applications mission-critical? How complex are they? How long is it going to take?

Replace (use third-party SaaS): Is there a commercial product we can use off-the-shelf or with minor tweaks? Is it FedRAMP-authorized? (This can be a great option if the time and cost of rearchitecting or rebuilding an app is untenable. There are challenges, however, around replacement as the features and functionality may be limited to a “one size fits all” model).

Retire (sunset): Is this application necessary? Is it redundant or non-essential? Can we add the functionality to an existing app or SaaS offering without much heavy lifting?

Rehome (move workloads and data from a cloud provider to on-prem): Was this workload migrated in a hurry during the pandemic without a comprehensive assessment? Are we concerned about security, data integrity, application performance, spiraling consumption costs or data egress fees? Do we now need to get a better handle on what’s going on from both an architecture and cost perspective?

Transitioning to cloud by design

Hybrid cloud is here to stay, but government needs to evolve to reap the benefits like agility, flexibility and predictive performance that it promises. A cloud by design approach is the most effective way to control spiraling costs, maximize performance and ensure security and compliance.

Lastly, understanding the R’s of hybrid cloud are some of the top considerations on whether to migrate to public cloud, stay in the cloud, and/or move back to an on-prem private cloud.

Stephen McElwee is a strategic solutions architect at Iron Bow Technologies.

Copyright © 2024 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Related Stories