Damanjit Padam is the vice president of technical solutions and Todd Hager is the vice president of strategy innovation and quality at Macro Solutions.
Moving mission-critical operations to the cloud is becoming standard operating procedure for federal agencies. And some find they need to move quickly in order to align with budget, security, operational continuity and enterprise architecture goals.
Moving existing operational applications to the cloud is a nontrivial task. Technology and operational change have to be considered, which in turn, have rippling effects across the enterprise. To successfully move operations to the cloud, agencies are embracing agile methodology instead of traditional workflow methods.
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Cloud-based operations go hand-in-hand with agile methods. Agile development workflows permit teams to iterate and develop solutions faster, and as those solutions are developed and refined, they can be implemented easily and securely in a cloud-based environment. As the systems development life-cycle gains speed, produces more quality results and stays within project security and budget parameters, agencies will find they have more time to spend on other tasks, such as serving citizens.
Once agencies have made the leap to agile and decide to move mission-critical operations to the cloud, development teams should keep a close eye out for the following challenges that might arise during migration. These challenges can pop up at any time, and simply knowing they exist is half the battle of solving any potential migration problems.
- Interdependencies with legacy systems. Like filaments in a spider web, legacy applications usually consume or share data with other systems, or points on the web. Migrating certain applications to the cloud can be tricky with these system interdependencies. Certain applications may be cloud ready, but integration points with legacy systems may require teams to create migration plans for other systems they hadn't yet planned on migrating.
- Fewer platform options because of database-stored subsystems. Explosive growth and marketing in platform-as-a-service options may lure agencies into thinking they have a plethora of choices for migration destinations. Some complex applications, particularly those that involve complicated subsystems, may not yet be ready for the cloud or may need to be integrated into specific cloud systems to function properly. Agencies should make careful, informed choices. With PaaS, one size truly does not fit all.
- Too many choices for continuous integration and deployment. While agency development teams may struggle with a dearth of platform options to fit their needs, they will have the opposite problem with tool sets for their CI/CD pipelines. It can be hard to choose the right set of tools for a specific project's needs, particularly with so many tools being built in the open-source community (and lacking complete documentation).
- Increased need for skills training. As more operations move to the cloud, some agency personnel may see their roles shift and they may need to acquire different skill sets to effectively complete their tasks. Knowing and communicating planned migrations ahead of time and assuring personnel agencies are prepping for on-going training can offset anxiety about migration.
It's time to migrate critical operations to the cloud. If agencies adopt a change in attitude, shift to a modern workflow and keep a sharp eye out for potential challenges, cloud migrations can be easily managed.