This article was originally posted on Forbes.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, government agencies were hesitant to go “all in” adopting cloud platforms because of regulatory, security and privacy concerns. Legacy systems still worked for agency needs, and the additional financial burden of moving to the cloud left adoption on the lower end of the priority list. CIOs of private sectors listed security and compliance as main hesitations about the cloud, leaving government agencies feeling even wearier. Cloud adoption was hindered by concern that cloud providers wouldn’t be able to navigate the government’s specific requirements.
When the workforce moved to a remote environment during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for government services grew and agencies were forced to shift priorities. The changing business landscape in 2019 pushed agencies to reevaluate. FinOps was born, and agencies discovered new ways to reduce spending by being more intelligent about leveraging cloud resources.
The pandemic demanded flexibility—from businesses, IT departments and government agencies—and the cloud met this critical need. The unprecedented strain on government resources required cloud deployment at scale. Virtual cloud services were poised to meet the needs of remote work because of its flexible computing power, high availability, lower cost for backup, remote workforce management and business agility.
As government agencies embraced cloud-native services, so too did they explore cloud capabilities.
Embracing New Methodologies And Establishing Trust
In 2022, many federal agencies embraced the cloud or adopted a cloud methodology to support their “mission-critical applications,” according to a FedRAMP survey. According to the report, approximately half of all respondents said they trusted government-approved cloud service providers to securely store, process and analyze data for a significant range of use cases including for research, business and financial operations, and employee/human resource information.
As the world continues to battle lingering pandemic disruptions, agencies have embraced new tools and operating methods under their fresh cloud-native perspective. Agencies moved into a second wave of agile experimentation, which included modernized and optimized services. DevSecOps, lean agile, process automation and the like have emerged during this time of digital transformation and technology modernization.
Despite this apparent shift and positive implementation, the future remains uncertain. The sudden jump into the cloud doesn’t mean government agencies are fully prepared for the complete capabilities of cloud-native solutions.
Future-Ready Multicloud Environments
According to Gartner, worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 20.7% to a total of $591.8 billion in 2023, up from $490.3 billion in 2022. Federal cloud spending is also showing an increase in cloud-native application development, according to a Deloitte analysis.
As governments continue to lean into cloud-native adoption, they should consider a sustainable, future-ready strategy to continue succeeding and fostering trust. The following are areas where agencies can invest resources and time.
Technology is only as good as the people who run it. Agencies need to attract and retain talent that can adapt as innovation changes and accelerates. Don’t wait to hire technology specialists six months to a year after implementing a new software or cloud-native platform. Agencies will want individuals in the right seats from the start, helping scale the technology and how it’s used.
Microservices And Containers
Containers help streamline application deployment and modernization across the enterprise, making it easier for developers to update and conduct routine maintenance without halting day-to-day operations. Microservices deliver technological freedom to reuse code and build multilayered security into cloud-native applications, allowing developers seconds, not minutes, to defend against cyberattacks.
Multicloud environments use a combination of on-premises, private cloud, public cloud and edge to build, operate, access and secure operations. Agencies that embrace multicloud environments may be better positioned to support the continued rise of the distributed workforce by securing and managing users and their devices and allowing for productivity from anywhere. Governance can reduce the risks associated with excessive access privileges to company resources and ensures security around the increased demands of a multicloud environment. Tagging strategies, ITSM and readily available resources also help save time when demand and surge are lower, scaling back instead of running systems around the clock.
No matter where agencies are on their cloud journey, change often begins when senior leadership leads the charge. With the tech layoffs of 2022 still ongoing, government leaders have a unique opportunity to hire top-tier talent. Doing so allows leadership to refocus budgets by allocating training dollars to ensure existing internal resources have the chance to modernize while incorporating new best practices (such as zero trust) into the folds of mission readiness to meet the demands of tomorrow.
Cloud-native applications and the like can prove to be cost-effective, independently scalable, portable, reliable, easy to manage and provide visibility for engineering teams to study applications. Innovation, especially in the public sector, is nonlinear. But if the Covid-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that preparedness is vital for technological sustainability.
Andy Zeswitz is the CTO for REI Systems. He drives REI’s overall vision and strategy for technology and innovation.