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How Efficiency and Security Needs Shape Agency Clouds

By Paul Parker, SolarWinds Federal & National Government Chief Technologist

As more agencies adopt the cloud, here's an applicable article from my colleague Joe Kim, in which he suggests achieving a balance between security and efficiency.

Federal agencies are using the cloud more than ever before, but they're also not ready to abandon the safety and security of their on-premises infrastructures. That's the message sent by survey respondents who participated in SolarWinds' 2017 IT Trends Report.

The annual federal IT pulse check—which is based on feedback from public sector IT practitioners, managers, and directors—indicated a marked increase in cloud adoption over the past year. Ninety-six percent of survey respondents stated that they have migrated critical applications and IT infrastructure to the cloud over the past year. The migration was driven by the potential of increased return on investment, cost efficiency, availability and reliability. Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents believe they have received most, if not all, of the benefits they expected from their cloud migrations.

But no one ever said this cloud thing was going to be easy or clear cut. A substantial number of respondents—29 percent—stated they have actually brought applications and infrastructure back on-premises after having initially moved them to the cloud. Their reasons included concerns over security and compliance (45 percent of respondents), poor performance (14 percent), and technical challenges with their migrations (14 percent).

As a result, hybrid IT infrastructures are thriving. Many agencies continue to be uncomfortable with migrating all of their infrastructure or applications to the cloud. The facets of their environments that are security-sensitive, for example, are for the most part remaining on-premises.

There's no indication that these agencies will be embracing an all-cloud IT infrastructure anytime soon. According to the survey, a large percentage of organizations (37 percent) report hosting one to nine percent of their infrastructures entirely in the cloud, while just one percent of respondents said all of their infrastructures are hosted in the cloud.

Some other interesting points of note:

  • 40 percent of respondents said their organizations spend 70 percent or more of their annual IT budgets on on-premises (traditional) applications and infrastructure
  • 62 percent indicated that the existence of the cloud and hybrid IT have had at least somewhat of an impact on their careers, while 11 percent said they have had a tremendous impact
  • 65 percent said their organizations use up to three cloud provider environments

All of these findings point to some clear recommendations. Managers must implement pervasive monitoring strategies that provide complete visibility into their entire network and all applications, both on-premises and off. Security, compliance, and performance should be just as important as cost efficiencies when considering cloud migration. IT professionals must continue to hone their cloud skills and be open and agile in adopting best-of-breed cloud and hybrid IT elements. And agencies should elect to work with trusted cloud vendors that are willing to provide federal IT professionals with control and visibility over their hosted workloads.

This is just a snapshot of where things stand in 2017. The full report contains a more complete picture of a federal IT world that continues to move to the cloud, but isn't quite ready to fully commit.

Find the full article on Nextgov.

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Paul Parker
Paul Parker, former chief technologist - federal and national government, SolarWinds, has 22 years of IT infrastructure experience, and has received multiple military and civilian…
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