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State and local government agencies are migrating to the cloud at increasing rates. The pull toward digital transformation is strong because government leaders understand the efficiencies it provides — and in today's uncertain environment, the urgency is even greater. 

Digitizing documents, enabling online services and using collaboration platforms with cloud-based software allow an agency to provide faster, higher-quality services and operate more effectively. But while governments recognize the benefits, they may find the obstacles to successful cloud adoption overwhelming. Transitioning systems while ensuring data privacy, mobility and security can be a formidable challenge without robust support. 

Hurdles governments may face as they move toward the cloud include: 

Legacy systems

Many state and local governments are heavily invested in legacy systems — and reluctant to abandon those investments and the established systems and methods they represent. Shifting from an on-premises data center to a cloud-based model is a dramatic move, but it doesn't have to happen all at once. Many governments transition first to a hybrid model, which is a mixture of on-premises and cloud services.

Data protection

Legacy data protection systems do not deliver the needed security for modernized cloud services. Governments are expanding protection or paying a cybersecurity service provider to protect against vulnerabilities and cyber attacks. Cyber criminals found new avenues for data breaches and phishing scams, as well as ransomware and malware attacks targeting school districts in 2020.

According to a report released earlier this month by a public data resource called the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center, in association with the nonprofit K12 Security Information Exchange, 2020 marked a "record-breaking" year for cyber attacks against public schools in the U.S. The report includes data from the center's K-12 Cyber Incident , which recorded 408 publicized school cyber attacks in 2020, representing an 18 percent increase over 2019.

Data mobility

Governments need to move data between systems — from legacy to cloud, within a hybrid infrastructure, and between various agencies. Moving data from one platform to another typically requires format modification, creating errors and other time-consuming complications. If there are not sufficient data backups, it can also pose a security risk.

Data protection: The first step toward success

Implementing a sound data protection plan should be the first move an organization makes before launching a cloud migration. Data backup and recovery works the same way as data migration — by taking a copy of production data and moving it to another location. Because data migration is an identical process, data protection is an effective way to enable data migration in the cloud. Many of the hurdles to successful migration result from proprietary data storage — and when you implement a robust data protection system, you create portable, software-agnostic data that can be moved and recognized anywhere.

Agencies searching for a solid data protection solution should look for one that completely supports on-premises infrastructures, virtual systems and cloud — and any combination of the three. Cloud migration may be a lengthy process, and you need a solution that will support you from start to finish.

Other essential features to look for in a data protection system include:

Vendor flexibility

Organizations should choose a data protection system compatible with major cloud computing platforms, ensuring that protection and backups extend easily to every part of the cloud system.

Tools to simplify data mobility

Organizations should look for a system that enables flexibility by treating all data the same. Once it's in the system, it should be portable: IT leaders can move it from the public cloud to a hosted private cloud, on-premises data center, and back again without data integrity loss. Ultimately, backups fuel data portability because they allow the freedom to move it without fear of losing something.

Compliance support

To ease the burden on your IT team, look for a data protection system that offers rigorous reporting and documentation, generated when you need it. And make sure they provide comprehensive backup services —backups are key to providing accurate compliance reporting, keeping the agency ready for internal or external audits.

Disaster recovery services

Government agencies of all sizes need to be ready when natural disasters, service interruptions, or cyber-attacks disrupt their data systems. To adequately prepare, create a disaster recovery (DR) plan: a set of tools and procedures that help organizations recover technology infrastructure following a disaster. Off-premises and secure, the cloud is ideal for DR backups. It's wise to choose a data protection system that offers this service along with targeted support.

Robust security track record

Look for data protection rooted in cybersecurity best practices and that other state and local government agencies have used with success. Specifically, a data protection provider with knowledge of ransomware can become an invaluable ally for your agency. Ransomware attacks are on the rise among public sector organizations and paralyzing when agencies are caught unprepared. Learn more about WWT's Security Practice.

Making the leap

WWT, along with partner Veeam, are focused on helping government organizations streamline their data management and help implement more modern data protection. With the rapid move towards cloud-based systems, WWT and Veeam provide the expertise to modernize practices, operations, and platforms to assist in this transformation.

Migrating some or all systems to the cloud is a substantial step for any government agency, no matter its size. While some agencies remain hesitant, many others feel pressure and motivation to make the leap. Small governments without large IT staff might be apprehensive about migration, but starting with a data protection system that simplifies data portability and provides disaster recovery services can alleviate much of the heavy lifting and potential risks. 

We provide data protection solutions for customers around the world. Customers can also rely on WWT's cloud, security, storage and infrastructure services  experts powered by our Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to design, test and prove solutions utilizing Veeam data protection and management software.

Ultimately, moving government workflows to the cloud may yield measurable ROI in the form of greater efficiency, better security and improved recovery services.

To learn more about how WWT can help, consider taking advantage of a workshop.