Cloud migration made easy

As OMB readies its Cloud Smart strategy, a key government executive shares four keys to successful cloud migrations.

key in cloud (Blackboard/Shutterstock.com)
 

Office of Management and Budget Digital Services Expert Bill Hunt knows a thing or two about online services, having started as a developer some two decades ago.  So as agencies look to move more of their applications and workload to the cloud, has some advice for making the most of those migrations.

First off, automation can make the move to the cloud easier, Hunt told the audience at an Aug. 15 FCW Event.   But it's important to remember, he said, that automation doesn't eliminate complexity -- it simply moves the complexity to different areas.

"Cloud is an automation system itself,"  he said.  "We are talking  about taking a server, putting in a data center, getting it running and putting your application on it.  At the end of the day, cloud  is  the automation of all of these concepts at varying levels. … All of this automation is useful and helpful and makes it easier to shift to cloud overall."

Virtualization and containerization also will make it easier for agencies to move legacy  applications into the cloud,  Hunt added. Both technologies create practical paths to hybrid or multicloud environments.

Second, agencies should measuring their needs before moving to a cloud environment. This involves looking at what applications are actually doing (to eliminate redundancies) and talking to system owners  who manage the applications on a day-to-day basis (to understand the real-world swings in usage-loads).

"There are a lot of opportunities for savings using the dynamic nature of  the cloud, the ability to spin up  resources easily and spin them back down," Hunt  said. "This is where your savings are coming from."

Agency IT managers should also pay attention to technology trends in the private sector.  With new services released every week, Hunt said agencies must be forward looking even if they can’t obtain new applications  quickly.

Lastly, agencies must invest in people with skills and knowledge in the government systems  rather than outsourcing the work.

"At the end of  the day, if you can't solve the problem and don’t understand the  problem, then you don't know what you are  buying, and  you won't  buy the right thing," Hunt said. "If your acquisitions staff understands these technologies, they can leap ahead of the game a bit and actually  make sure the vendors are delivering the right solutions to the right office."

While Hunt offered his personal view about cloud success, he said all of these strategies will incorporated into OMB's upcoming Cloud Smart strategy, which is expected to be released within the next month, he said. 

This story originally appeared in FCW's sibling publication GCN.

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