Insight by Oracle

Welcome to the age of Cloud 2.0 – and what it can offer your agency

Federal agencies are some dozen years into concerted efforts at cloud computing adoption. Policy has evolved from the initial cloud first to the current cloud smart. And the commercial cloud services industry has also come a long way, as providers have grown from simply infrastructure hosts.

“What that means is that there are a lot more options, a lot more services, a lot more capability today than we saw only a few years ago,” said David Knox, group vice president and public sector chief technology officer at Oracle.

Knox said agency IT managers “need to revisit that and think about how they can take advantage of those options.” And ask, “Is their first initial goal with the cloud, in fact, achieving what it is that they want? How do they incorporate those new capabilities into what they’re doing?”

Cloud success has three important components, according to Chris Pasternak, managing director and North America Oracle lead at Accenture.

First is simply having a clear definition of what you mean by success. Lowered cost is an obvious metric, but “there are other things than costs,” Pasternak said. Those include seemingly intangibles “like job satisfaction for the IT staff. How do your end users feel? Have you improved their experience?”

Second, Pasternak said, you must have a clear technical path, including the understanding that legacy applications will need re-architecting and code factoring. You can’t just pick them up and move them.

Third factor in success consists of continually monitoring performance, keeping up with new services and keeping on top of both service level agreements and cost expectations.

“You’ve got to move your mentality away from legacy, into this new operating model, this new thinking,” Pasternak said. That in turn requires updating governance strategies, fine-tuning data egress and other operations to control costs, and figuring out how to provide greater autonomy to developers, systems administrators and others who are dealing not with an agency data center but with a cloud services provider.

Also important: not forgetting the agility and scalability that formed the case for cloud computing in the first place.

As Knox explained, yes, data egress costs can present a scary picture. But that must be balanced against even small increments in, say, response time. Such increments multiply to vastly increased capacity to handle program demand peaks. What might have jammed a data center mainframe to failure can be answered by instantly spinning up a new server instance in a cloud.

He added that it’s also important to factor in the increased security that comes with the major cloud providers.

“The cloud service providers have to put together a very robust infrastructure. They’ve hired the world’s best computer security technologists, network security people. And that is inherent,” Knox said. In fact, cloud customers, simply by hosting there “have to take advantage of the security that’s there.”

Updating cloud strategies becomes especially important in the government-wide drive to modernize its IT. The Biden administration has requested $9 billion for the Technology Modernization Fund.

Pasternak said legacy and other mission applications have only moved to the cloud in recent years. He advised using that experience to inform future migrations.

For example, some agencies are using cloud hosted financial management applications that are both critical and complicated. When planning for the next mission critical app, he said, “use it as a stepping stone. Ask, how do I then further my agenda by stop customizing the app, and build using cloud native services bolted on to the application?” The final step becomes a matter of re-directing user traffic to the cloud. “That makes things so much easier when you start to think about your transition.”


Cloud Migration Status Update

Cloud has continued to mature. That means a lot more options, a lot more services, a lot more capability today than we saw only a few years ago. People need to revisit that and think about how can they take advantage of those, how do they incorporate those new capabilities into what they're doing.


Skillsets in the Cloud Age

If I want to move to cloud now, use [earlier applications] as a stepping stone. Ask, what things can I do to put [the next] application on cloud? How do I then further my agenda by stop customizing the app, and build using cloud native services bolted on to the application? Because then I can just re-point [users]. That makes things so much easier to start to think about your cloud transition.

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Featured speakers

  • Chris Pasternak

    Managing Director and North America Oracle Lead, Accenture

  • David Knox

    Group Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Public Sector, Oracle

  • Tom Temin

    Host, The Federal Drive, Federal News Network