industry perspective: MAKING SMARTER IT INVESTMENTS: Customizing the Cloud

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1 industry perspective: MAKING SMARTER IT INVESTMENTS: Customizing the Cloud

2 1 A Brief Introduction Today, cloud computing offers government the opportunity to re-imagine how services are delivered. But a word to the wise: not all cloud platforms are created equal. Cloud solutions depend on both solving the right organizational problems and selecting the right kind of cloud offering. By doing so, you can enable your agency to fundamentally change how you operate, and drive improved outcomes. Government agencies are seeking ways to take advantage of cloud computing s transformative IT delivery model. With the ability to enable on-demand access to a shared pool of computing resources, applications, data or software, government is looking at ways to make smart, and customized, cloud investments. Government is trying to find a way to reduce spending and accelerate cloud adoption. They need a way to scale up and scale down on-demand services, said Ray McCay, vice president, solution strategies at ViON, who recently spoke with GovLoop on the transformative power of the cloud. The public sector also wants to be able reduce upfront costs, pay for use and increase responsiveness. They don t want to have to own the infrastructure, and they have severe budget challenges. Additionally, they are hampered by what can be a slow and burdensome acquisition process. In the end, the cloud is the best way to stand up and optimize mission critical applications very quickly, added McCay. In doing so, agencies can find relief from flattening budgets and the pressure to do more with less, even as citizen and mission demands continue to rise. Two key themes have emerged to accelerate successful cloud implementations: knowing the problems your organization is trying to solve, and the need to deliver stellar customer service. With various service and deployment models, how do you know which cloud offering is right for you and how do you find the support you need to ensure ongoing effectiveness? 1 Industry Perspective

3 The Importance of Customer Service Although cloud computing has become an imperative for government agencies to deliver services in new ways, the nature of cloud requires agencies to also consider the level of service and customer response required to be successful. ViON is one of the few industry leaders that offer 24x7x365 support to their clients, and they have built their company around providing superb customer service. If your application is down, we are going to respond immediately, said Mc- Cay. We are going to stay involved and engaged until it s restored. We understand what it means to implement true high function, high performance, and highly capable computing environments. ViON has a pedigree of solving the our hardest problems, the biggest scale issues, the toughest performance issues, and the most critical application environments. We deliver the total package with a customer service experience intended to thrill our customers, said McCay. We re a global leader in helping agencies deploy mission critical private cloud with the highest levels of customer service and response." ViON has been delivering highly capable computing environments to their customers for over 30 years. ViON has been leveraging cloud based solutions and associated industry leading customer service for over 15 years, helping government and industry safely and securely transform their business operations. Our focus is on the high availability, high performance environments. We are big on ensuring the best customer experience and really making sure the customer mission is successful. We don't change that when we go to the cloud. Cloud becomes the vehicle that customers use to get access to the technology and total solution experience they need, said McCay. Understanding Cloud Deployment Options Each cloud deployment model differs in who has access to information and resources. These models are essential to understand, as they dictate who and how people will access your cloud resources. Below, we provide a brief overview of four common deployment models: public, private, hybrid and community clouds. The Public Cloud A public cloud is a cloud deployment that makes information available to anyone. Generally this is shared infrastructure model, where multiple companies or organizations are sharing the provided infrastructure. The Private Cloud A private cloud is a cloud deployment infrastructure that is dedicated to one organization, not shared among organizations. The agency s internal applications are deployed on the infrastructure, but multiple business units may be granted access to share and leverage the data. The Hybrid Cloud The hybrid cloud consists of two or more deployment models. For instance, a hybrid cloud will contain both a public and private cloud and can easily segment data and transfer data between clouds as necessary. The Community Cloud A community cloud is a model that provides access to multiple organizations that have similar interests in collaboration. You may hear about this kind of cloud referenced as a government only cloud model. With the ability to rapidly provision IT technologies, cloud computing is an imperative for agencies looking modernize. Use our 10 questions in this report (on page 6) as your first step to define your cloud journey and change the way that your agency operates, allowing you to focus on business needs while gaining efficiencies in transformative ways. Making Smarter IT Investments 2

4 2 Picking the Right Cloud Solution With the cloud, it is important to understand project priorities and how workloads can successfully be transitioned to the cloud. McCay provided expert insights on how government agencies can excel with cloud adoption. The first thing to do is start with a clear understanding of the problems you are trying to solve. It is important to realize that not all clouds are created equal, said McCay. Your implementation has to be tailored for the nature of your problems and the challenges of your mission critical environment. McCay advises that the safest approach is to consider public cloud only for environments with lower security needs and of course where general public access is required. Private cloud is the way to go, especially when your application environments need higher levels of service, security, and capabilities for mission success. Private cloud can fully protect an agency s data while still gaining many of the cloud s efficiencies. Another emerging option is a hybrid scenario. With the hybrid cloud, IT can balance security, operational control and cost by retaining sensitive data locally, while running workloads against an external cloud given sufficient bandwidth. In addition to addressing the right problem with cloud, agencies must identify their application requirements. For example, an application that processes live satellite feed data over North Korea has different infrastructure requirements than an application that shares medical images between hospitals. Not all applications are equal. Figure out what it is you need to be successful, said McCay. If you re trying to do a one-size fits all, just ask yourself the question: do your applications all have the same profile? Well, if your applications all have the same profile, then one size fits all - but the real answer is they most likely do not have the same profile. Migration is another non-trivial topic for moving to cloud. Are your applications 'cloud friendly' in regard to latency sensitivity, file structure and other important considerations? Do you have access to the tools to assess your environment for readiness, or will the potential provider administer the process and methodology? Understanding customers real challenges is important for successful deployment. 3 Industry Perspective

5 Learning About Cloud Service Models Software-as-a-Service Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a cloud service model in which an agency accesses software on demand from a third-party vendor. The agency does not buy the software, but is provided multiple licenses to access information. Platform-as a-service Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a cloud delivery model in which a vendor provides an online development platform for an agency. Developers leverage the vendors computing environments and can test, create and ultimately host new applications. Infrastructure-as-a-Service Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is a cloud delivery model in which a vendor provides the hardware and software and a government agency can build a customized computing environment. This delivery model can provide government agencies with access to advanced computing power, storage, memory, bandwidth and software applications all on demand. Making Smarter IT Investments 4

6 3 Navigating Cloud Challenges Although cloud computing presents government with many opportunities and benefits, it does come with a unique set of challenges. McCay identified three challenges facing cloud adoption in the public sector. 1 Meeting Complex Security Requirements One of the key challenges faced by agencies is security. Governments are very concerned about legal compliance and the risks of public data exposure, said McCay. Understanding security and making sure that data is protected is a core challenge for government. Agencies must understand how to remain compliant and keep systems safe. This extends to the lifecycle of data in the cloud: the transport, compute and short and long term storage. 2 Developing the Workforce To deploy the cloud, agencies must have employees who understand not just the benefits and applications, but also the technical expertise to be the bridge between IT and employees, and between the organization and vendors. The cloud evolves the role of IT into more customer or stakeholder-facing service delivery rather than back office operations. Government agencies are concerned about staffing issues. They are worried that they don t have the skillsets in the volume required to pull this off, budget restrictions are clearly an impediment to bridging these gaps, said McCay. 3 Lengthy Procurement Cycles Purchasing cloud solutions is an additional challenge, due to complex procurement cycles as well as the lack of understanding of how to procure cloud based services. This is a challenge for agencies, as they must become more agile and efficient to adopt IT solutions. You have a large number of legacy contract vehicles that make it difficult to be able to implement a cloud solution. Procurement cycles and contract vehicles are often staggered. You might in one year be buying servers, and another year buying storage. So, how do you execute a single cloud contract for the full infrastructure? And the answer is you may have to put in brand new contracting vehicles that can be complex and could easily introduce delays. Approaching cloud procurement from a services perspective versus a capital acquisition will make sense to the majority of organizations, but the procurement complexities can still be challenging, said McCay. To help overcome these challenges, agencies can start by asking themselves a series of questions to provide clarity about cloud solutions. 5 Industry Perspective

7 About ViON ViON Corporation (ViON) is a small, veteran-owned corporation, established in 1980, and headquartered in Herndon, VA. We specialize in designing, delivering and maintaining storage and server solutions to enterprise-wide data centers throughout the federal government and public sector & commercial marketplaces. We excel in solutions addressing Enterprise Storage, Disaster Recovery, Server Consolidation, Business Continuance and File Services in the Windows, UNIX and z/os environments. ViON leads as the most certified vendor of storage, services and critical IT solutions. Our customers choose us because we provide a cost-effective storage environment capable of delivering the right data to the right people no matter what/no excuses. ViON offers Assured Computing as one of our unique solutions for disaster recovery problems facing Agencies today. Assured Computing is comprised of ViON plus our partnerships with the market leaders in storage and storage management. It is the combination of teamwork, business sensitivity and technical leadership that enables us to provide value added solutions for our customers. About GovLoop GovLoop s mission is to connect government to improve government. We aim to inspire public sector professionals by serving as the knowledge network for government. GovLoop connects more than 100,000 members, fostering cross-government collaboration, solving common problems and advancing government careers. GovLoop is headquartered in Washington D.C. with a team of dedicated professionals who share a commitment to connect and improve government. For more information about this report, please reach out to Pat Fiorenza, Senior Research Analyst, GovLoop, at Phone: (202) Fax: (202) Adopting the cloud requires you to ask the right questions and gather information to be able to make smart decisions. Below is a set of questions to help you get started, and ways that you can make improved cloud investments. 1 How does the cloud support current operations? Is cloud able to support and run current applications? 2 What is the pricing model that is appropriate for us to deploy cloud? Can we anticipate costs based on our various cloud models we may deploy? Can we scale usage and pay for what we use? 3 What problem are we trying to solve, and why is cloud an appropriate option? 4 Have we explored the current service and deployment models? Which model, public or private, fits our agency needs? 5 How have we engaged with our end users and business units across the agency? Will the cloud meet the needs of each stakeholder? 6 Can we leverage existing cloud applications across our agency? 7 How can we speed up procurement and deploy solutions? 8 How will we measure success and define our return on investments from the cloud? 9 Will the cloud create proprietary data formats or vendor lock-in? 10 Do we fully understand, and can we accurately describe, the services levels required to support the applications we want to move to the cloud? These questions are just the start to improving the effectiveness of your cloud program. Making Smarter IT Investments 6

8 GovLoop th St NW, Suite 900 Washington, DC Phone: (202) Fax: (202)

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