To optimize your agency’s cloud usage, consider optimizing your people

One of the benefits of cloud computing is that it allows agencies to move from a capital expenditure approach to information technology to an operating expenditure model.

Why OpEx Favors CapEx? Because the agency rarely has a consistent computing demand. For example, deploying a new enterprise or mission-related application may require significant computing power. With a cloud OpEx model, an agency can leverage cloud power almost immediately, rather than embarking on a two- or three-year hardware procurement…

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One of the benefits of cloud computing is that it allows agencies to move from a capital expenditure approach to information technology to an operating expenditure model.

Why OpEx Favors CapEx? Because the agency rarely has a consistent computing demand. For example, deploying a new enterprise or mission-related application may require significant computing power. With a cloud OpEx model, an agency can leverage the power of the cloud almost immediately, rather than embarking on a two- or three-year hardware purchase and installation. Also, once you download the app, it only has to pay for the power it uses each day.

But the widespread adoption of cloud computing, even as an agency maintains data centers for some functions, is changing network topology, application design, cybersecurity approaches, and IT operations and business practices. According to Sean Phufanich, senior solutions architect at Amazon Web Services (AWS), it takes a retrained workforce to realize the benefits of cloud computing—and to do so effectively.

The evolution of cloud-based IT management

The advent of the cloud has changed IT management in many ways, Phuphanich said during the Federal News Network Industry Exchange Cloud. For example, it allowed agencies to move away from remote backup sites, so cybersecurity threats replaced physical threats to infrastructure from natural disasters. The cloud offers newer technologies for developing and maintaining applications, which also results in more frequent and dynamic releases.

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“And so governments and agencies had to become more dynamic,” he said, “and be able to update these old systems, change their architecture and their security.”

In essence, added Richard Breakiron, senior director of strategic initiatives for the American federal sector at Commvault, “The reason you’re moving to the cloud is because you wanted to ensure operational resilience. You wanted to be able to scale without saying, “Oh my God, I have to contract for a whole new set of infrastructure for my on-premises solution.” “

Both Phuphanich and Breakiron said the pandemic expanded cloud adoption in at least two ways. This led many people to work remotely, revealing the benefits of the cloud over a client-server model that can be difficult and expensive to access remotely. And it reinforced the idea that large-scale applications could run quickly.

“Agencies were forced to consider the cloud. Fortunately, they were very successful in many of these early efforts — turning around within weeks or months” — and not having to buy hardware, Phuphanich said.

Achieving cloud operational efficiency

Achieving operational efficiency in a cloud environment requires attention to both how an agency chooses to store and process data and to optimize costs.

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When it comes to costs, agency IT managers are always concerned about data egress fees imposed by cloud service providers. The question is “all the time in the Commvault,” Breakiron said. “Wouldn’t it be nice if you just didn’t have an exit fee, that you could have unlimited storage, unlimited time, and those kinds of things built into the contract? And so we created it. “

He urged agencies to do detailed planning for any cloud implementation and to consider working with partners who have experience working specifically in hybrid environments. And it is also important to realize that an agency may need several partners, Breakirons added.

He said it will be necessary for agencies to carry out many efforts, such as zero trust, availability of data in the right quantities for analysis and training of artificial intelligence, and effective control of costs by constantly adjusting capacity.

On that last point, by scaling up and down as needed, Breakiron suggests that many IT managers will need to improve their teams, for example by answering questions like: “Does scaling up automatically scale down? Or should I tell the cloud that I opened the door at 6am and turned it off at 6pm?

Phuphanich said IT staff will also need to learn how to design cloud deployments at scale. He cited an “internet-scale” application hosted by AWS to allow every household in the US to order and have the postal service deliver COVID-19 test kits.

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“In that case, you don’t cancel the data,” he said. “You’re using something like object storage that can scale dramatically to terabits per second.”

In traditional workloads with network-attached storage, limited users, and predictable usage patterns, “you can optimize efficiency, use things like deduplication and compression to reduce the cost of that storage, and make sure you’re not wasting. additional storage when people share a lot of similar files or work with a lot of similar documents,” Phuphanich said.

Given that access to data equates to operational readiness in both civilian and defense environments, Breakiron said IT professionals will also need to improve their understanding of what causes service outages. Before the cloud, IT would look for a broken cable, broken radio system or crashed modem.

In the Internet-connected cloud era, he said, “You also have to make sure you know how to troubleshoot if things go a little sideways. Again, other skills.”

Ultimately, resiliency requires rethinking how agencies manage their resources in the cloud and training staff accordingly, Breakiron said. “If we can’t maintain access to data, whether it’s in the cloud or in a deployed tactical unit, many systems that have gone fully digital will be more of a limitation than an asset.”

Listen and watch others Industry Exchange Cloud sessions, visit our event page.



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