The cloud keeps the State Department connected to every corner of the globe

Special Bulletin Review: Enterprise Cloud Conversations - February 25, 2021

As technology has figuratively led to a shrinking of the Earth, the State Department has embraced cloud technology to streamline and organize its IT organization, the Bureau of Information Resource Management.

Brian Merrick, Director of Cloud Programs at the State Department, said in trying to support the department’s overseas community, as well as its domestic partners, the cloud has been a perfect fit.

Merrick’s goal is to provide enterprise-grade products and cloud platforms to a far-reaching global organization, with 275 overseas posts and missions, along with some 50 U.S. locations.

“There are a multitude of different business drivers, risk tolerances, organizational cultures, functional areas and business needs that we must address,” Merrick said on Special Bulletin Review: Enterprise Cloud Conversations. “There’s everything from highly secure activities, down to public diplomacy. So across that spectrum, we’ve decided to adopt more of a multi-cloud approach, so that we can satisfy those needs with the best tools possible.”

Focused on moving much of its collaborative capabilities into the cloud has proven to be cost-effective for the State Department.

“We have everyone in,” Merrick said on Federal Drive with Tom Temin. “All their email has been in the cloud for a couple of years now. We focused on those real-time collaboration and data consumption needs first. And then, over time, we’re moving down the stack into the more back-office functions. We’re really adopting that cloud-smart approach to trying to focus our resources on those types of business outcomes, activities that make the best use of the cloud. And we can get the most value immediately and then, as I said, over time we’ll see a lot more continue to move into that space.”

Merrick said as part of the State Department’s large footprint, it will increasingly use more tailorable technologies

“There are a whole host of outreach activities through public diplomacy that leverage mobile applications, social media platforms, web platforms, etc.,” Merrick said. “And that really gets it, the need to have a disparate approach to the application layer so that they can really capture those different audiences’ attention in different ways. For instance, they need the ability to alter the facing of some of their core applications, so that it appeals to different cultures overseas, but they still need the data to come back in one cohesive way.”

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