How Federal Agencies Can Solve the Hybrid Multicloud Puzzle

Hybrid multicloud is picking up momentum across agencies, but success requires the right partners—and the right plan

Jon Lin
How Federal Agencies Can Solve the Hybrid Multicloud Puzzle

Federal agencies are increasingly looking to the cloud to support their IT modernization efforts, thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many agencies were forced into remote-work arrangements with little advanced warning. At the same time, their missions shifted, and their workloads skyrocketed. For example, as part of the pandemic recovery efforts, the Small Business Administration processed more than $1 trillion in loans; in a normal year, they would typically process between $25 billion and $35 billion.[i]

Faced with many of the same challenges, private enterprises are relying on hybrid multicloud to set themselves up for success in a post-pandemic future. According to the Global Interconnection Index from Equinix, there has been a 3x increase in the multicloud adoption rate over the last two years. This is one of the trends that have helped digital leaders in the private sector move 4.5x farther ahead of their less-proactive competitors.

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Many agency leaders are beginning to look to private sector businesses for inspiration to guide their own hybrid multicloud adoption strategies. One example of this is the Department of Defense, which opted to shift away from the single-cloud Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, in favor of a hybrid multicloud approach.

Hybrid multicloud adoption also enables federal agencies to get out of the data center business, reducing their real estate footprint and costs by shifting from government owned-and-operated data centers to as a service models enabled by private partnerships. This is a great way to make progress toward federal sustainability goals.

Building a secure hybrid multicloud ecosystem from the ground up

While the benefits of hybrid multicloud are clear, knowing where to begin isn’t always straightforward. To start off on the right foot, identifying trusted hybrid multicloud partners and connecting with them quickly and securely is key.

As federal agencies begin to adopt hybrid multicloud, they’ll have to rely on an entire ecosystem of partners. This includes not only the cloud providers themselves, but also the contractors and vendors that build value on top of the cloud providers, including systems integrators, SaaS providers, cybersecurity firms, network service providers, and more. In a world where nation-state actors are increasingly targeting businesses that partner with federal agencies, both the government and its private partners are going to great lengths to enable a secure approach to hybrid multicloud.

The DoD’s proposed Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) 2.0 is one recent example of this. CMMC 2.0 aims to make certification simpler and more streamlined for DoD contractors. As shown below, the new regulations would include three levels, down from five in the original CMMC. The higher levels would remove CMMC-specific requirements, and instead align to existing NIST standards. In addition, only contractors handling critical national security information would be required to pass third-party assessments; all others would instead be able to perform annual self-assessments. 

Changes from CMMC Model 1.0 to CMMC Model 2.0

Image source: About CMMC, Acquisition & Sustainment, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense

Cloud providers will also benefit from this more straightforward approach to cerfication. With regulators doing their part to simplify the standards, federal agencies and contractors should find it easier than ever to find certified cloud providers to work with.

Connecting with hybrid multicloud partners directly and securely

Once an agency has identified a trusted cloud provider capable of meeting the unique cybersecurity requirements of their most vulnerable workloads, the next step is to connect to that partner directly and securely—and to all other partners in their hybrid multicloud environment. To do this, they’ll want to take advantage of dedicated interconnection solutions offered by a neutral aggregator like Equinix.

Different workloads run better on different clouds; in fact, some workloads are not a good fit to move to cloud at all. The beauty of hybrid multicloud is that it gives you the flexibility to place each workload on its ideal host while still running the environment as a cohesive whole, where the different pieces interoperate and play off each other’s strengths.

Already, digital leaders from the private sector are using hybrid multicloud to its full potential. This could mean deploying public cloud for maximum performance, flexibility and cost-efficiency, private cloud for workloads that require special security measures, and on-premises environments for workloads that are too costly or complex to move to the cloud. Federal agencies can capitalize on the same kinds of benefits to better support their mission goals.

An effective hybrid multicloud strategy requires agencies to connect directly and securely with the right partner in the right places. To do this, they must avoid vendor lock-in, relying on cloud-agnostic open source solutions such as Kubernetes for container orchestration and Terraform for infrastructure as code. They must also work with a digital infrastructure partner that can help them create interconnections with their cloud provider partners at software speed.

Equinix offers our federal agency customers everything they need to modernize their networks and tackle their missions with increased agility, including trusted experts to act as advisors. Hundreds of digital leaders across industries have worked with Equinix Global Solutions Architects to plan and design an optimized infrastructure that maximizes the return on their IT investment. In addition, Equinix is certified, accredited or authorized for many critical federal compliance standards and security controls, including NIST 800/53, FISMA High, ISO 27001, SOC 1 Type II, SOC 2 Type II, FedRAMP, HIPAA and PCI DSS.

On Platform Equinix®, public and private organizations worldwide can access all the right places, partners and possibilities. At Equinix, we are dedicated to helping digital leaders bring together and interconnect their foundational infrastructure on our global platform to gain maximum competitive advantage. For example, via Equinix Fabric™, with more than 50 locations across the globe, you can access a growing ecosystem of more than 3,000 cloud and IT service providers on Platform Equinix. Interconnecting with cloud providers via high-speed, low-latency “on-ramps” also allows you to bypass the public internet and move data exactly where it needs to go without exposing it to risk.

Equinix helps agencies simplify hybrid multicloud

Federal agencies recognize the need to work with trusted cloud service providers to support their mission goals. Equinix is the right digital infrastructure platform to connect them to those cloud providers—without being overwhelmed by complexity or risk.

To learn how Equinix can help you take the first step toward a successful hybrid multicloud deployment, schedule a Digital Edge Strategy Briefing today.


[i] Nextgov, “Looking to Modernize? Better Have a Plan, Federal Officials Say”, October 2021.

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Jon Lin Executive Vice President and General Manager, Data Center Services
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