Cloud innovation in the US federal sector

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As federal agencies take their first steps toward cloud implementation, they are beginning to establish their own cloud strategies.

These include laying out a framework that will identify different workload profiles and deploy each workload in the most suitable cloud environment. During this planning and design phase, they often realize a need to adopt a hybrid cloud, including their on-premises private cloud.

For instance, an agency will likely leave its mission-critical systems in a private cloud and migrate emails and public-facing websites into a public cloud. In addition, an agency may have enterprise applications which can be split into systems of engagement (SOE) and systems of record (SOR) to be separately hosted between private (SOR) and public cloud (SOE).

Once this initial design is completed, the next challenge is how to orchestrate disparate applications and enable application portability in a hybrid environment. There are a number of different solutions for this, but the best solution should be based on a twofold approach.

The first part starts with understanding if an agency’s current infrastructure virtualization platform is also available in the cloud. The key to implementing a hybrid cloud for the government is seamless integration that requires minimal effort. This will not only save implementation costs, but also ensure that cloud implementation doesn’t increase security risks, assuming the solution is FedRAMP compliant. For example, moving VM images between the same platform (such as vMotion on ESXi) would be much easier and faster than converting image formats between different platforms.

The second phase is ensuring that a cloud environment is designed based on open technologies (such as OpenStack or Cloud Foundry) for easy integration with other systems, even across different cloud service providers. From an orchestration perspective, it is critical for an agency to deploy single-pane-of-glass management across disparate systems in a hybrid environment. This will mitigate the risk of losing visibility and control over their systems running in the cloud and cohesively enforce IT governance and policies.

For instance, if an agency is using the vRealize management platform as part of its VMware software stack within its own data center, it might be a good idea to select a cloud environment that provides VMware software and OpenStack services. This will accelerate the creation of a hybrid environment and orchestrate even OpenStack-based systems via VMware-integrated OpenStack APIs.

Designing a hybrid cloud based on the twofold approach described above can significantly reduce an agency’s deployment cost and time (see figure). Cloud migration is evolving into simply extending the capacity of existing virtualization platforms on-demand and moving applications using existing software stack and tools. An agency can also continue to use the same management tool (with no new skillset required) for their systems running in the cloud.

Federal agencies hybrid cloud

Partnering with VMware, IBM brings VMware on x86 bare metal servers, in addition to OpenStack-based cloud services, to federal cloud data centers. Understanding the federal government’s budget constraints, security, cloud-first policy, and current IT environments, IBM Cloud is fully committed to accelerate hybrid adoption for federal government agencies while reducing cost and risks.


IBM Cloud Advisor

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