COMMENTARY | A multicloud approach to cloud computing is used for better data control, allows access to the best services from each provider, and offers more flexibility as IT leaders can optimize workload placement based on workload requirements.
Federal and state agencies today face serious IT challenges but have been left without the tools to address them. From cybersecurity threats to unprecedented data management complexity to systems outages, outdated IT hinders the government’s ability to provide important services in the safest and most efficient manner possible.
Our technology infrastructure should receive the same attention and investment as our roads, bridges, energy, and broadband infrastructure. Instead, current policies deter government IT leaders’ ability to choose the best solutions to meet modern challenges. Public agencies are too often using outdated technology and face too many barriers to effectively modernize their systems. A recent Government Accountability Office report shared that some of the government’s legacy systems are more than 50 years old. The same report stated that each year the government spends more than $100 billion on technology related investments, in which 80% of the spending goes to operations and maintenance of existing IT, which includes legacy systems.
Modern technology can help the Federal Aviation Administration reduce flight delays, the State Department better process passport renewals and visa requests, and the CIA reliably monitor and protect our country. If the government wants to better leverage technology to provide critical public services, then policymakers must support policies to modernize IT infrastructure.
Federal and state agencies have been slowly upgrading IT infrastructure over the past decade by shifting to a public cloud computing model. This is primarily driven by the promise of increased efficiency, lower costs, and improved continuity to enhance the services they offer to the public. While many government organizations have taken advantage of the flexibility public cloud computing offers,
given privacy, compliance and security concerns, this approach does not work in every situation. It is critical that IT leaders have flexibility to choose the most cost-effective solutions that best meet the needs and security of their mission.
Government agencies should consider a multicloud by design approach, where you use cloud services from multiple public and private cloud providers. While a single-cloud strategy might seem simpler, it limits service offerings and often commits organizations to a single vendor, which often costs more in the end. A multicloud approach to cloud computing is used for better data control, allows access to the best services from each provider, and offers more flexibility as IT leaders can optimize workload placement based on workload requirements. While government agencies – and ultimately taxpayers--that adopt multicloud approaches can also have greater control over cost, which is critical at a time when research firm IDC estimates that nearly two-thirds of organizations are spending more on cloud than initially budgeted.
Policymakers need to make this multicloud modernization process a reality by:
- Continuing to invest in the technology modernization fund allowing government agencies to replace legacy equipment with upgraded multicloud computing solutions that will ensure agencies can provide critical services quickly and securely.
- Requiring that all federal, state, and local agencies conduct multicloud computing readiness assessments through an evaluation of current IT infrastructure, processes, and policies to determine the best path for adoption. The assessment should look at things like are the agency’s applications considered cloud-enabled, what is the cost of migration, do cloud computing solutions meet security and compliance requirements, as well as what is the impact on civil service employees.
- And reinforcing the universal adoption of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) definition of “cloud computing” to help shape the best practices for modernization.
We cannot fight off cyberattacks and provide the best services possible in the digital age with inadequate and outdated IT infrastructure. Adopting a multicloud approach will help securely manage critical data, cut costs, and allow for our government to use the solutions that are most effective to meet our citizens’ needs.
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