Cloud Exchange: Balancing the challenges of a multi-cloud environment for today’s federal IT leaders

A steady shift from a data center orientation to a hybrid cloud infrastructure had been occurring in federal agencies for several years. It paid off when the pandemic shifted agencies to largely remote work. According to David Kushner, the senior vice president of sales at ViON, that shift “allowed agencies diversify their operations, to avoid having all their data in one cloud or one platform.

Kushner added, “And what that did was, it allowed the balance of workloads and security to be able to provide a good user experience. And it eliminated the impact on performance and the user experience.”

Security will be foundational to further cloud deployments, Kushner said, speaking at Federal News Network’s Cloud Exchange. He noted that some of the recent and notorious cybersecurity attacks weren’t particularly sophisticated. In the Colonial Pipeline hack, for example, someone got virtual private network passwords for a network that lacked two-factor authentication.

Therefore, Kushner said, “limiting the movement and internal access, the movement of users, where they’re at internal of my network, and what they’re accessing — needs that overarching zero trust strategy.” Execution of zero trust can be complex, because of the sheer number of networks and segments that comprise the average large agency’s data center and multi-cloud infrastructure.

“The biggest challenge is the control and governance across all of my clouds,” Kushner said on Federal News Network’s Cloud Exchange. “Whether I am acting in or utilizing multiple public clouds, or I’m utilizing my private cloud, it really comes down to understanding what my cloud sprawl is, where my users are, for what that security will look like.”

By “private cloud” Kushner was referring to a third element of the hybrid infrastructure, after on premises and commercial clouds. That element is a recreation of the agency’s on premises data center, but operating on an as-a-service basis from a co-location center — often providing the edge computing capabilities needed for wide area delivery of content or services.

Given the many components in the enterprise IT setup, the technology staff has an overarching need for a way to see and manage it all. Kushner noted that ViON’s marketplace lets tech staff view and compare various products needed to build that control plane. From that view, he said, agencies have an efficient way to “speed the agility of bringing infrastructure online.”

Such a platform also enables development of a governance structure to keep, for example, spin-up of virtual machines and their associated costs, from getting out of control.

The platform can also integrate service management into the governance and operation of the infrastructure, Kushner said.

For example, “ServiceNow is something that we use so that [customers] can manage all of the infrastructure, manage any challenges that you have in multiple public clouds, or behind your firewall, or even in a colocation,” he said.

Kushner cited the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, “where we provide a fully managed service. We’ve been able to provide millions of dollars in cost avoidance for them by not only providing them dozens of different OEM manufacturers, but also providing them that managed service to take care of everything.”

As for what’s ahead, Kushner said multi-cloud and agency data centers rendered as-a-service will continue to support a dynamic in-office and telework situation. That hybrid work environment will require increased security, with zero trust as the next evolution of cybersecurity.

He concluded, “What I truly see is just agencies focusing on outcomes instead of infrastructure technology.” And deploying contractors for the orchestration of infrastructure elements to support the mission and business outcomes.

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