What to Expect for Federal Cloud Innovation in 2022 and Beyond

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Today’s IT leaders are leveraging cloud technology to streamline workflows and improve organizational success. As cloud technologies continue to advance, there are a few key areas that will be a driving force of innovation and outcomes for federal agencies.

At today’s federal agencies, cloud capabilities continue to improve services for the public and address emerging threats around the globe. And we can expect major growth in government adoption, with Gartner predicting that over half of agencies will migrate critical applications by 2025 in order to improve resilience and agility.

But as cloud transforms mission areas and enables new capabilities — from AI to 5G — IT leaders will need to navigate new ground: How can we create value across the enterprise? What cloud-native tools will help us innovate faster? What is the art of the possible as we look to the future?

According to Sahil Sanghvi, principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, the next phase of cloud adoption in the federal government will be marked by a focus on mission innovation, resiliency, and modernizing with purpose.

“Organizations that have committed to cloud adoption, are now at an exciting time where they can think about how to apply emerging technologies to deliver value to their mission,” says Sanghvi. “Looking ahead, it’s important to not feel inhibited by how things are done today.”

As government agencies tackle mission transformation and innovation, a few key areas will become a focus point for IT leaders — starting with how they navigate improvements to their resiliency and security posture.

Advanced Security and Resilience

With a distributed workforce and complex threats increasing around the globe, more agencies will start to take advantage of resilient architectures and new security processes. Advanced strategies are becoming especially important in multi-cloud environments, with technology and services entrusted to cloud partners and vendors.

“We expect to see a continued push to integrate Zero Trust principles so that organizations can modernize how users access all of these cloud environments,” shares Chris Christou, vice president at Booz Allen. “But Zero Trust isn’t a solution you apply; it involves a principled security-first focus on all parts of implementation and architecture — and then setting policies to permeate throughout the organization.”

Christou recommends starting with a maturity assessment to understand the current state of security and to determine which key areas to tackle first. To manage dynamic and critical mission workloads in the cloud, he expects that federal organizations are going to further emphasize resiliency, taking advantage of things like multi-region architectures or even explore more advanced, multi-cloud resilient architectures to decrease redundancy and improve overall performance.

Adopting Edge Cloud Across Agencies

Another area to watch closely will be the enhancement of edge cloud, and new use cases that emerge to extend today’s cloud infrastructure. To advance issues of national priority, agencies have already been experimenting with edge infrastructures — particularly the Department of Defense’s (DOD) investment in delivering capabilities closer to the end user and beyond the traditional IT enterprise.

“With innovation in edge computing and 5G, the DOD is spurring industry on and working to get private 5G networks built for new use cases,” says Christou. “Their focus on building edge cloud prototypes will go a long way to help other agencies ideate around similar use cases and think through how these technologies can improve mission delivery in non-defense areas.”

Christou also notes that while the DOD's advancements are helping new technologies take hold elsewhere, we're just at the cusp of realizing the value of edge cloud. 

According to Sanghvi, these technologies will start to mature as more organizations have an opportunity to test their value. “What they essentially represent is an extension of the enterprise and a significant improvement in your network,” he says. “That will ultimately result in better architectures for how to establish agency networks, connect IoT devices, and carry out mission activities in environments with or without standard connectivity.”

Codified and Commercialized Cloud

As cloud transformation continues in the federal sector, more organizations will standardize cloud offerings and even offer core competencies as a service or product to others. This will, in turn, fund more innovation across the government.

“Gone will be days where every team builds from scratch. We’re going to see more standardization, which enables scale and mitigates technical complexity across the enterprise,” says Sanghvi. “Smart guardrails and standardization will need to be balanced with providing the technical workforce with autonomy in product development. This will allow for faster development cycles and product creation.”

The challenge ahead will be to accelerate the innovation cycle and lower technological barriers of entry for organizations across government.

“Models like the Air Force’s Platform One are indicating a pattern we’re seeing — where agencies are productizing their capabilities so others can essentially build on top of them,” explains Christou. “By teaming up with universities and foundations or developing open-source solutions, it’s encouraging to see new packaged offerings coming from government so everyone can benefit.”

As new solutions become more widely available, agencies will experience continual transformation — and cloud technology will be a driving force.

“When you're thinking about how to leverage next-generation cloud, really think about the art of the possible. It’s encouraging to watch as more lab environments are set up for rapid prototyping so agencies can innovate and then scale successful prototypes,” Christou shares. “Now, government agencies have to continue to be creative in terms of how they empower, train, and augment their workforce to support sustained transformation.''

Sanghvi adds that organizations will need to prepare for increasing complexity and how they manage the proliferation of diverse cloud-based applications, services, and products. Ultimately, in 2022 and beyond, IT leaders will need to focus on whether cloud investments are adding sustained value across multiple lines of business.

“Technology is going to continue to evolve, and agencies are going to be in a continuous state of transformation,” Sanghvi notes. “Cloud is a huge piece of that. Building muscle memory to know how to leverage and secure cloud services is critical right now. The earlier an organization is able to learn, the more the dividends they'll get in the future.” 

Chris Christou is a vice president at Booz Allen, leading secure cloud and 5G services; Sahil Sanghvi  is a principal of digital strategy, specializing in emerging technologies and large-scale transformation.

Find out how Booz Allen Hamilton’s team of experts can help you optimize your agency’s cloud operations strategy.

This is part of Booz Allen Hamilton's "Government Cloud" series. Click the links below for other articles in the series: 

Peak Performance: Key Pillars for Enterprise Cloud Operations

Mission Critical: Leveraging Cloud Resilience for High-Stakes Delivery

This content is made possible by our sponsor. The editorial staff was not involved in its preparation.

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