Insight by Perspecta

How agencies can avoid having ‘random acts of cloud’

The Current Journey to the Cloud

We’re seeing the drivers of cloud not only be the same as they were, but be exceeded. It’s not just [about] cost savings, but improved mission effectiveness. They want to talk about agility. They want to drive agile development.

The Multi-Cloud Environment and Emerging Technologies

It’s really understanding and clearly coming up with a plan, strategy and roadmap for cloud suitability around those applications—what stays, what goes and what needs to be remediated. That’s probably one of the biggest challenges agencies have—just simply understanding portfolio and driving what needs to be done with that portfolio.

When agencies and vendors discuss cloud services today, it’s a very different discussion than what they talked about 7 or 10 years ago.

It’s no longer a matter of if or should, but when and how. It’s no longer talking about infrastructure or platform, but software, applications and mission improvements.

And most importantly, agencies need to understand the best approach for deciding which applications should be moved to the cloud, which should be retired or which should be updated and kept on-premise.

Sean Mullen, the senior vice president for corporate business development and sales at Perspecta, said there is more clarity in the journey to the cloud, and IT modernization more broadly, than ever before.

Part of the reason for that is the acceptance of the hybrid environment where agencies will have data and applications on-premise, in private and commercial clouds.

But Mullen said what’s driving agencies to a new tipping point is the growing acceptance of the “as-a-service” model to improve mission delivery and drive agile development.

“We are moving from some of those initial deployments like public websites and things like that to a true plan of what is going to move to the cloud,” Mullen said on the Cloud Strategies discussion. “When you talk about the cloud, people talk about infrastructure-as-a-service and hosting and moving there right away. As the government goes forward and adopts commercial technology, they get that as-a-service model. They don’t buy a commercial product or build a government off-the-shelf product, they don’t go develop from scratch. Platform-as-a-service is really where they are going to launch.”

The desire for software- and platform-as-a-service is coming into greater focus for many agencies because they have moved the “low-hanging fruit” to the cloud. The Office of Management and Budget reported in September, for example, that 76% of all civilian agency email is in the cloud.

Stu Hammer, the senior director of application offerings and advisory services at Perspecta, said agencies need to do a top-down, bottom-up analysis of their application inventory especially on the mission or business side of the house, which he said can be more complex.

“It’s really understanding and clearly coming up with a plan, strategy and roadmap for cloud suitability around those applications—what stays, what goes and what needs to be remediated,” Hammer said. “That’s probably one of the biggest challenges agencies have—just simply understanding their portfolio and driving what needs to be done with that portfolio.”

He said this analysis becomes more important since most agencies are going to live in a hybrid environment for the near future. Chief information officers and mission owners have to understand not only which applications need to modernized but what type of cloud service makes the most sense to use.

Mullen said that agencies need to avoid having what he called “random acts of cloud.”

“We don’t want people just going to cloud without a plan,” he said. “For many different attempts at this at the enterprise level, you have to deal with various resource owners and that can be a challenge. The government is getting better at that and they are getting better at acquiring cloud services. We are reaching that tipping point in their willingness to move mission and business applications and their willingness to change the way they do business and behave differently.”

Hammer said the cloud migration roadmap becomes even more important as they move to the different cloud models, whether software- or platform-as-a-service.

“Understanding that portfolio is critical to drive that consumption model, to understand the agility and the cost savings you will get as you move into that as-a-service capability,” Hammer said. “Agencies to look at it from their current state and understanding cost, risk, technical quality and functional quality and then cloud suitability. That turns into a short, medium and long-term plans.”

Mullen said it’s well known that keeping up the legacy technology environment is chewing up agency budgets, to the tune of around 75% to 80% of all IT spending, so the potential for cost savings, improved cybersecurity and better citizen services is real.

Hammer added agility is a big driver too.

“We’ve seen with some of our DoD clients not just the cost savings, but a significant improvement in time-to-value, where releases were taking months down to weekly,” he said. “Our stakeholder could see the results on an agile basis very quickly.”

Mullen added the entire IT modernization initiative is about agencies making sure their applications or data are in the right platform environment to deliver the most cost effective services.

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