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The benefits of cloud computing are irresistible to public- and private-sector IT organizations alike, as everyone eagerly rushes to migrate systems, data and applications to public, private and hybrid cloud solutions (including multicloud). 

Like their civilian counterparts, it's imperative that government IT infrastructures migrate to the cloud for improved network visibility, tighter security, and the unmatched efficiency and flexibility for innovation that hybrid cloud solutions offer.

The challenge lies in accommodating hundreds of thousands of users deployed across the globe and coordinating thousands of legacy systems and applications. While there may be a desire to race to the cloud to gain these benefits, it's better to regard the migration process as a journey — one that might take several years to achieve.

As WWT's Vice President of Public Sector Strategy, I understand these needs and challenges because I've experienced Public-Sector IT environments from both sides of the desk. Formerly a U.S. Army Lieutenant General with 38 years of service, I was the Army's Chief Information Officer for three years, reporting directly to the Secretary of the Army. There, I was chartered with leading a significant network modernization mission with over 1.5 million users.

So it's fair to say I appreciate the complexities facing every government IT project, especially cloud migration. What follows are my three most important must-haves for devising an effective Public Sector cloud migration strategy. 

Ask the right questions and earn broad support

It's critical for everyone to be on board, sharing a common cloud vision — especially decision-makers who are responsible for funding and resource allocation. To do that, everyone must be involved from the beginning in sharing their requirements, ensuring that all voices are heard and winning buy-in at every level. 

Yours is a fact-finding mission, answering key questions and working to:

  • Describe what success means to your mission and the initial outcomes and long-term benefits you anticipate from moving to the cloud. For example, it should increase the pace of innovation, be able to scale rapidly, provide robust disaster recovery, reduce the cost of software and hardware refresh cycles, and provide sufficient security. It should also enable you to access data at the point of need and make better, faster decisions to solve certain operational challenges.
  • Articulate the form your cloud strategy will take based on your mission outcomes and the expected benefits: How will you balance workloads between public and private cloud environments?  What is the best multicloud strategy for your mission?
  • Capture and resolve concerns about cloud migration. Do you have the required skills to be successful in your cloud journey? How do you ensure workloads are provisioned securely into your new cloud environment(s)?
  • Understand the resources that cloud migration requires and create a long-term resource plan to support your cloud strategy. Ask yourself: Do you have the skilled workforce to migrate and maintain your cloud environment once there?
  • Identify what IT governance, laws, regulatory and policy issues will direct the cloud migration process.
  • Verify that senior leadership understands and supports migration to the cloud. Is there a commitment to achieving cloud migration? Do they understand that the process might extend over five years? Can you articulate a "business case" that supports your organization's mission?

Asking the right questions and having ironclad support from leadership will provide the foundation of your Public Sector cloud strategy, and it goes a long way to help mitigate potential problems and overcome resistance as you implement your migration. 

Understand your current IT environment

It's important to know you have full visibility and accurate information about everything running on your network when preparing to migrate apps, systems, data and capabilities to the cloud. Ensure that you have identified a true picture of every data center in your existing IT landscape and the unique cloud solution each requires. Also understand the process by which your organization maintains its network, software and apps, as well as how it executes updates and patch management. You should know how you plan to rationalize applications — what you'll keep locally, move to the cloud or remove altogether.

These are just a few of the myriad details you must track. Ask yourself: Have you performed a hardware/software inventory reconciliation? What operating systems are you currently using? What software licensing do you currently have and will additional licensing be required to accommodate your cloud strategy? Who's managing endpoint and network security? Are there mobility concerns with any apps? Are there dependencies on any current external data sources, networks and systems? Only with a complete and accurate picture of your current data center infrastructure can you identify opportunities for consolidation and cloud migration.

Select an experienced IT partner

It's critical to have an industry advisor with the right technical cloud talent and Public Sector experience to help you move from a legacy environment to a state-of-the-art cloud operating model. Such a partner must understand both your mission and the full spectrum of unique challenges you face.

Whoever you work with should be able to support security assessments and navigate the federal security accreditation process for IT security professionals. The right advisor should know that "cookie cutter" solutions won't apply in a Public Sector environment — each agency has its own mission, serves its own public, and faces its own challenges.

Your partner should be able to take a leadership role in developing a holistic cloud strategy that will help you leverage data generated by the cloud to drive AI and machine learning efforts that support your organization's missions and priorities.

WWT's approach to Public Sector cloud migration

We believe that each Public Sector environment is unique, which is why we hire people with specific Public Sector IT backgrounds with first-hand experience understanding and addressing those needs, issues and concerns. In fact, WWT has more than 30 subject matter experts from the Department of Defense, including Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. On the civilian side, our knowledge base encompasses former IT personnel from the Veterans Administration, U.S. Postal Service, FBI, NSA, State Department, the Intelligence Community as well as other arms of government.

WWT is also focused on deploying the latest and greatest technologies, with Intel® being key for the cloud along with the leading public cloud hyperscalers like AWS, Google Cloud and Azure. As one of WWT's main industry partners, Intel collaborates with us on a great many cloud deployments for government customers, bringing to bear the latest Intel technologies for IT transformation, featuring the 2nd generation Intel Xeon® Scalable processor as well as Intel Optane™ DC persistent memory.

In fact, Intel technology lies at the heart of more than 95 percent of the solutions in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC). The ATC is where today's leading-edge technologies come together in one collaborative ecosystem to solve unique challenges such as those faced by public-sector customers. It's in the ATC where those customers can get hands-on experience with cloud solutions, finding what fulfills their needs with virtually no risk.

Late last year WWT launched its new, community-based digital platform, making the unique digital experiences of the ATC accessible 24/7 to IT professionals and decision-makers around the world. Powered by Intel technology, the platform features hundreds of labs, demos and other resources from an array of vendors.

In short, WWT has the emerging technology, expertise and facilities to offer assistance at any point in the cloud journey.

Take the first step toward a holistic cloud strategy

Federal, state and local government IT organizations, like their private sector counterparts, can enjoy a wealth of benefits from allocating the appropriate workloads to the cloud — but their process, timetable and challenges will be vastly different, and each requires its own tailored strategy to succeed.

Your Public Sector organization can ease that journey to the cloud by satisfying three high-level requirements: asking the right questions and establishing leadership buy-in, ensuring a strong understanding of your IT environment, and finding a partner with the right expertise to introduce innovation to your IT organization, moving you from idea to outcome.

The best time to start is now: WWT invites you to speak with our experts on the topic of cloud migration readiness and cloud maturity. These conversations are offered without obligation in advance of a formal migration assessment or cloud foundation assessment. We'll help you determine the surest migration path that makes sense for your Public Sector environment.