How Government Goes All-In on the Cloud

Rene Matawaran
How Government Goes All-In on the Cloud

David Ulepic of NetApp, Brendan Walsh of 1901 Group and Jim Steinbauer of Equinix contributed to this post.

Growing complexities in technology and the cybersecurity protections needed in today’s digital world are putting government agencies under increasing pressure to modernize IT and shift to the cloud. However, this can be a confusing transition slowed by concerns about costs, procurement and data security.

On the state level, cloud adoption is lagging. A full one-third of state government IT systems are at least 16 years old, according to the Center for Digital Government. Meanwhile, federal agencies are running out of time to incorporate public clouds into their IT strategy. Last year, the White House mandated they incorporate public clouds as part of an executive order to strengthen cybersecurity, then months later ordered them to step up efforts.

This accelerated push to the cloud is the backdrop as the AWS Public Sector Summit meets in Washington D.C. with an agenda filled with sessions on how to migrate, be secure and scale by leveraging the public cloud. To support IT modernization and technology transformation programs, NetApp, 1901 Group, and Equinix will join the summit to talk about a joint solution that offers a better path to leverage the public cloud.

This solution helped a large U.S. federal law enforcement agency complete a complex cloud migration cost-effectively, while keeping its data completely protected and private. This model is transferrable to other government agencies that are on the move to the cloud. Organizations don’t need to get bogged down when the public cloud calls. They have options that can greatly simplify building public clouds into their IT strategy, while keeping their costs and data firmly under control.

Case Study: At the edge of the cloud

The large law enforcement agency (7,500 employees spread across 280 offices) that deployed the joint NetApp Private Storage-as-a-Service solution was under the gun to leverage public clouds in order to meet a mandate to close its corporate data center.

A major concern for the agency was the sensitive nature of its data, which numerous organizations depend on for evidence in court. Putting it all in a public cloud just wasn’t an option. At the same time, tight budgets across the federal landscape meant the migration had to be done within extremely stringent spending limits.

The agency turned to NetApp, 1901 Group and Equinix to implement a hybrid cloud solution that met government guidelines for security, monitoring and assessment of cloud products and services (known as FedRAMP) and guaranteed the agency was able to maintain control and governance of its data.

The NetApp Private Storage-as-a-Service (NPSaaS) solution from 1901 Group enabled the agency to store its data in a FedRAMP-authorized private cloud based in a secured cage at an Equinix data center, and it brought a host of benefits:

  • The data remained completely protected, accessible only to authorized personnel.
  • The agency now consumes infrastructure and disaster recovery services on a per-terabyte basis – avoiding major capital costs.
  • The agency has quick, low-latency access to a host of public cloud compute resources, since it can directly connect to a range of hyperscale cloud providers (such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, IBM SoftLayer and Google Cloud Platform) that are on Equinix’s global interconnection platform, Platform Equinix®.

This NPSaaS deployment on the edge of the cloud – not in the public cloud, but physically right next to it – gives the agency the best of both worlds. Its data stays protected in a private cloud, but the choice and benefits of a selection of cloud services are just milliseconds away, with no lengthy procurement process.

The federal agency also benefitted from 1901 Group’s “Cost Neutral Cloud Journey,” which is an assessment and migration service that helps agencies significantly reduce operating and maintenance spending, then use the savings to pay for the cloud migration and a new hybrid cloud environment. In this case, 1901 Group reduced that spending by 30%, so the agency was able to shift to the cloud while maintaining data control and governance and dramatically lowering costs.

Key takeaways

Not every government agency has the scope or handles the same kind of ultra-sensitive data as our customer, but we think a couple lessons in this deployment could apply to most government agencies:

  • Start with a smaller, more digestible task, then plan to work in phases.
    Too often, organizations planning to move to the cloud are overwhelmed by the size of the job and fail to identify severable pieces they can get started on. But if they take a small step first – as this agency did by first setting up private cloud storage between disaster recovery and backup – they can reduce risk, as well as work through kinks in a lower-stakes atmosphere. The success then feeds on itself.
  • Commit to doing thorough pre-implementation planning.
    It takes time, but often ultimately saves time because it can uncover superior options that agencies didn’t know they had or expose gaps between planning and execution. That way, the project starts off with a realistic plan everyone agrees can be well-executed.

Establishing minimum expectations

We also believe the case study with this federal agency establishes some minimum expectations government agencies should have for cloud migrations:

  • Data of any kind should always be secure, in the place where it makes the most sense (in the cloud, at its edge, etc.), and easy to manage no matter where it resides. The NetApp Data Fabric can help make this possible.
  • Moving to the cloud doesn’t have to mean breaking the budget. It’s possible to substantially reduce your operations and maintenance costs and use the savings to fund or significantly defray the costs of your cloud migration. 1901 Group’s Cost Neutral Cloud Journey can show the way.
  • A broad choice of cloud and network services should be directly and securely accessible. This helps avoid vendor lock-in, encourages collaboration and innovation and promotes network efficiency. Government agencies on Platform Equinix can connect to partners and services everywhere and maximize the cloud.

Remember that Equinix, NetApp and 1901 Group will be at the AWS Public Sector Summit at Booth 559, and we’d love to talk about cloud migrations that also increase security and efficiency. Please stop by and visit!

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Rene Matawaran Senior Product and Platform Marketing Manager
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