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Cloud Enablement for Government

Austin Fuller

8 min read

Last updated on May 17th, 2023 at 12:58pm

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, government agencies must face the challenge of adopting multiple cloud providers to gain access to the latest technologies to enhance their operations, streamline processes, and deliver better services to the public. One of the most promising solutions to the challenges of a multi-cloud approach is cloud enablement, which refers to removing obstacles, streamlining processes, and simplifying what’s complex in the cloud to optimize government operations. In other words, make it simpler and easier for government agencies to achieve the benefits of the cloud.

“A multi-cloud approach enables agencies to select the best-suited cloud service providers (CSPs) for their requirements, promoting flexibility, scalability, and cost optimization. However, the multi-cloud approach also presents several challenges, including adhering to regulatory and compliance standards, retaining sufficient skilled talent in diverse technologies, and integrating disparate cloud systems.”

Despite the challenges, multi-cloud adoption offers numerous opportunities for government agencies to achieve greater agility, cost reduction, and heightened security. By leveraging cloud resources, agencies can quickly scale their operations, respond to changing demands, and capitalize on the innovations provided by multiple CSPs.

What is Government Cloud Enablement?

Government Cloud Enablement is the process of removing obstacles, streamlining processes, and simplifying cloud technologies, resources, and services to enhance the efficiency, agility, and security of government operations. A key aspect of cloud enablement is unlocking the power of multiple CSPs without increasing overhead or required headcount for agencies.

Multi-Cloud Complexity and Opportunities

Utilizing multiple CSPs, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and Google Cloud, allows government agencies to capitalize on the unique offerings of each provider, leading to faster application development and deployment. By having access to a diverse range of cloud services, agencies can select the best-fit service for their specific tasks and requirements, ultimately improving overall performance.

However, managing multiple cloud environments also introduces an additional layer of complexity, as agencies must ensure seamless integration, data interoperability, and adherence to strict regulatory and compliance standards across all platforms. This complexity necessitates the development of robust cloud management strategies, as well as the cultivation of a skilled workforce capable of navigating the intricacies of multi-cloud environments.

Opportunities and Goals

Despite the challenges, cloud enablement in government presents numerous opportunities for agencies to transform their operations, prevent wasted spend, and bolster security. Here are some of the key opportunities.

Flexibility and Scalability

Cloud enablement unlocks the option to choose the most suitable CSP for specific needs and objectives. This approach empowers agencies to mix and match services, capitalizing on the unique features and capabilities of different CSPs. As a result, agencies can swiftly adapt to changing requirements. It also helps them avoid the dreaded “vendor lock-in” by reducing dependency on a single provider – keeping their infrastructure flexible and scalable.

Innovation and Collaboration

A cloud-enabled, multi-cloud strategy can enable government agencies to rapidly test, iterate, and deploy new solutions, streamlining the process of digital transformation. This agility is crucial in today's fast-paced technological landscape, where governments must adapt and respond to emerging trends and challenges. By providing access to cutting-edge technologies and resources from multiple CSPs, a multi-cloud approach ensures that agencies remain at the forefront of innovation, enhancing service delivery and citizen engagement.

Challenges and Roadblocks to Government Cloud Enablement

While cloud enablement offers numerous benefits for government agencies, it also presents challenges and roadblocks that must be addressed to ensure the realization of those benefits.

Satisfying Complex Compliance and Regulatory Standards

Government agencies are subject to a wide range of standards and regulations, such as the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines.

Complying with these regulations is paramount to ensuring the security and privacy of sensitive government data. Government agencies must carefully navigate the complexities of multi-cloud environments, implementing robust security controls, monitoring systems, and developing risk management strategies to ensure strict adherence to regulatory and compliance standards. Understanding your security and compliance posture aligned to specific compliance standards across different cloud platforms can be next to impossible without a cloud enablement strategy.

CSPs may have varying levels of native support for these standards. There is also no way to natively aggregate the compliance posture of the individual cloud platforms. Agencies must develop and implement robust monitoring and reporting systems across all their clouds to maintain visibility of their complete compliance posture, or they risk compromise and regulatory scrutiny.

Security Concerns

Government data is often highly sensitive and requires advanced security measures to protect against potential threats. One such measure is the use of secret regions, which provide additional layers of security to safeguard sensitive data.

However, some native services from AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud may be restricted or not permitted in secret regions, complicating the management of environments that include these regions. This adds to the complexities of multi-cloud by restricting many of the native tools and services to streamline and automate operations. We go into greater depth about gaining visibility and control in secret regions in a separate post.

Integrating for Modern and Legacy Systems

Integrating existing legacy systems with modern cloud infrastructure can be a complex and time-consuming process. Government agencies must carefully plan and execute migration strategies for applications and data, ensuring seamless operations and minimizing disruptions to critical services. This may involve selecting the appropriate cloud services, developing custom integration solutions, and thoroughly testing the new environment to ensure compatibility and performance.

Not only do legacy systems need to be integrated but also the different cloud platforms. Integrating disparate cloud platforms can be challenging, as agencies must establish seamless workflows, data synchronization, and interoperability between various CSPs. This often means they develop specialized tools and custom solutions, which may not be readily available or budget-friendly for all government organizations. Consequently, adopting a multi-cloud strategy may create additional hurdles for government agencies striving to achieve optimal efficiency, cost savings, and streamlined operations.

Cloud Skills Gap

To successfully implement a multi-cloud strategy, government agencies require a workforce with the necessary skills and expertise in cloud technologies. However, many agencies may face a skills gap, with employees lacking the relevant knowledge and experience to effectively manage and optimize multi-cloud environments. To address this, agencies must invest in training and education programs to prepare employees to shift to multiple cloud providers. This may include offering workshops, certification courses, and mentorship opportunities to help employees develop the skills required for successful cloud enablement.

Getting Started with Government Cloud Enablement

Implementing a government cloud enablement strategy can seem like a daunting task. To help guide you through the process, consider the following steps:

  1. Assess Your Needs: Begin by identifying the specific goals, requirements, and constraints of your agency. Determine which cloud services are best suited to address your unique needs and challenges, and consider how these services align with your overall mission and objectives.
  2. Develop a Strategy: Create a comprehensive cloud enablement strategy that outlines your agency's objectives, timelines, and resources needed for the transition. This strategy should include a detailed roadmap, risk assessment, and contingency plans to address potential challenges and roadblocks.
  3. Choose Your Cloud Service Providers: Select one or more CSPs that offer the features, compliance certifications, and support needed for your government workloads. Remember to consider multi-cloud adoption, as this approach can provide greater flexibility, cost savings, and security. For guidance on adopting a multi-cloud strategy, refer to our multi-cloud adoption guide.
  4. Document Security and Compliance Requirements: Establish a robust security framework and ensure your chosen CSPs meet the necessary regulatory standards. This may involve implementing access controls, data encryption, and monitoring tools to safeguard sensitive information. For defense agencies and contractors, preparing for CMMC is definitely a consideration.
  5. Train and Educate Staff: Provide training and education to staff members, ensuring they understand the new cloud-based tools and processes. This may involve offering workshops, certification courses, or mentorship opportunities to help employees develop the skills necessary for successful cloud enablement.
  6. Consider a Cloud Enablement Solution: A cloud enablement solution, like Kion, gives you a single control plane across AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. This can bridge skill gaps, provide a real-time view of your multi-cloud compliance posture, increase your capability across commercial and government cloud regions, and give you visibility and control over all of your cloud costs. We go into more depth about how many public sector organizations are finding success in the cloud.
  7. Monitor and Optimize: Continuously monitor your cloud environment to ensure cost efficiency, security, and compliance. This may involve utilizing cloud management tools and analytics platforms to track usage, identify inefficiencies, and optimize resources. Regularly reassess your cloud strategy to ensure it remains aligned with your agency's evolving needs and objectives.

By embracing a multi-cloud approach, agencies can achieve flexibility, scalability, security, and cost efficiency, while fostering innovation and collaboration. Although heightened compliance and security requirements and integration challenges may arise, a well-executed cloud enablement strategy can help agencies overcome these hurdles, ensuring they successfully navigate the complexities of multi-cloud environments. Kion’s cloud enablement platform gives you the control you need over AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud to operate with agility and speed application development and deployment. You can request a demo to see how Kion can transform how your agency operates in the cloud here.

About the Author

Austin Fuller

Austin has nearly a decade of experience in enterprise software and cybersecurity and is an AWS-certified cloud practitioner.

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