Commentary by Stu Fleagle Vice President, Carpathia Government Solutions
At the start of a new year, we have the opportunity to look ahead and think about what trends will likely shape the coming months. MarketsandMarkets’ research points toward massive growth in the government cloud market, with revenue predicted to soar to $18.48 billion in 2018 — up from $2.87 billion last year. With an increasing number of organizations looking to modernize their computing environments, expand their focus on secure and compliant hosting, and meet the growing demands of an increasingly mobile workforce, 2015 is poised to be transformative for government agencies. But what trends are likely to drive investments and major deployments this year?
Here are five predictions we can expect to see over the next year:
Hybrid cloud market matures – While there has been a lot of buzz around hybrid cloud computing, there is still much debate about what hybrid cloud actually is and what infrastructure elements a deployment encompasses. As the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines it, hybrid cloud is a composition of any two or more distinct infrastructures that remain unique entities but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability.
Hybrid cloud is just on the cusp of becoming a realistic alternative for many government agencies. According to the Gartner report, “Private Cloud Matures, Hybrid Cloud is Next,” the hybrid cloud is today where the private cloud market was three years ago, and by 2017 half of mainstream enterprises will have a hybrid cloud. Thanks to the best practices derived from initial real-world cloud deployments last year, agencies will begin to get a firmer grasp of what the hybrid cloud means for their specific environments.
Automated compliance adoption increases – After years of struggling with time-consuming and complex compliance processes and procedures, agencies and auditors alike will be even busier in 2015, making automation tools critical for reducing the complexity that surrounds meeting audit, compliance and security requirements. These tools will help the government ensure compliance around critical government and health care industry standards, including the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
At a time when continuous network infrastructure and even physical monitoring is critical to maintaining a secure posture, government agencies can’t afford to wait until an audit takes place to know if they are compliant with key standards. The most cost-efficient and effective tools will be those that can proactively trigger compliance activities and streamline the overall auditing process.
Privacy becomes top of mind for agencies – Whether it’s internal information traveling between public and private cloud environments or the massive uptick in electronic protected health information (ePHI) driven by millions of newly insured individuals under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), harnessing and protecting data will be a focal point of every 2015 government IT initiative. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) more than 7.1 million Americans have signed up for health care coverage through the federal government’s insurance marketplace, which means there is more sensitive personal information being transacted by the government, government contractors and business associations than ever before.
The reality is that privacy remains a major concern as growing amounts of data cross various cloud environments. To make sure that none of this sensitive information is improperly accessed, hacked or leaked, we can expect to see the emergence of vertical-centric cloud communities, like health care, that cater to industry-specific needs and compliance requirements.
Agencies get cozier with the public cloud – Similar to the hybrid cloud, public cloud adoption by the government will continue to gain momentum in 2015. With the recent availability of FedRAMP authorized providers, agencies will finally start moving a greater number of workloads — and even some mission-critical ones — into the public cloud. We have already begun to see some agencies becoming more vigilant with their controls around what can be placed in the public cloud.
For example, new guidelines from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), released Jan. 12, specify what the Department of Defense (DoD) can place in the public cloud, what information needs to be contained within a virtual environment, and what must be kept on physically separate networks. As the guidelines currently stand, components are permitted to host unclassified DoD information that has been publicly released on FedRAMP-approved cloud services, and FedRAMP will serve as the minimum security baseline for all DoD cloud services. Depending upon the security level, mission impact level — low, medium or high — or impact level of the information, the public cloud may be an option for hosting DoD workloads.
Data-centric decisions are the new norm – Spurred on by rapid software development, faster hardware technology and the rapid maturation of industry tools and services, data-centric decisions for businesses and government will be commonplace. With increasing volumes of information generated and collected across various technologies and platforms, the availability of tools that can help manage and make sense of data will become a necessity in 2015.
As a result of the deep insight these tools provide, we can also expect to see more government agencies making better-informed decisions about workload allocations, and responding faster to agency needs. By enabling asset tracking, provisioning, monitoring, reporting and management of private, public or hybrid cloud implementations, government agencies will be better positioned to make decisions based on their desired mission outcome rather than the technology itself.
Stu Fleagle oversees sales and business development as the vice president of Carpathia Government Solutions (CGS). He brings more than 25 years of public sector experience in federal, state, local government and education, and integrator-related businesses.