Human aspect of the cloud adoption journey

More and more agencies are ramping up their cloud migration journey, but adoption does not come without buy-in from its people.

Beyond the investments in technology, investing in the workforce is just as crucial — and that starts at the top.

Agency leaders who understand and embrace the journey will be more effective in helping implement proper preparation for the move — while conveying the benefits and agency objectives to help the workforce feel more comfortable and excited with getting on board.

“I think the process portion for us is getting up to speed, and really one of the things we see is the support we need from senior management,” said Jay Mahanand, chief Information officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development, during a FedInsider webinar on digital transformation.

With the pace at which cloud technologies are advancing, it is important for agencies to keep up with the tools they will need to avoid falling behind.

But having the proper tools in place doesn’t mean much if the agency doesn’t have the proper personnel. Ensuring a workforce with the necessary expertise requires having a staff that is committed to learning.

Hesitation from top to bottom can be a challenge because many people fall into a position of being stuck in what is in place already.

“What I see as a barrier in a lot of places is ‘this is how we do things,’ and our tendency for us to attach our identity to our task,” said Andrew Shafer, vice president of transformation at Red Hat, during the FedInsider webinar. “When someone says we’re going to work in a new way, what people are hearing is you’re going to erase my identity … once you align the incentives, the training is that much easier.”

Having the proper tools and trainings in place, or hiring and retaining workers with the necessary skills, is one of the biggest hurdles agencies face — especially as they are competing for skilled IT professionals with the private sector.

Avoiding skill gaps will also help minimize security risks. Cybersecurity is an ever growing concern across the government, and adopting new technologies can open up agencies to more vulnerabilities if the proper measures are not in place.

“It only takes one misconfigured firewall or misconfigured server to open up a security threat,” said Scott Bowman, acting deputy CIO for disaster operations at FEMA. “I would say that is always a top concern, making sure the environment is configured appropriately and properly. And also that you have other tools that you can fall back on in case you find something that isn’t correct, that you have appropriate monitoring of logs and systems to ensure everything is behaving normally.”

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