Government and the Cloud: 4 Approaches to Migration

For years, maintaining a central, on-premise data center was the norm for organizations with sensitive, proprietary, or top-secret data. Since 2010, though, increasing numbers of government entities have migrated to the cloud, leveraging the platform’s increased speed, security, agility, and bandwidth – and freeing themselves from the cycle of endless upgrades and hardware maintenance. In fact, by 2018 more than 20% of government budgets were dedicated to cloud solutions¹, with spending expected to grow an average of 17.1% per year through 2021 and beyond.

While no two cloud-migration journeys are exactly alike, there are common approaches that organizations need to retain when contemplating the migration. In this post, we will explore four approaches most frequently seen.

1. Cloud-First Approach
Many organizations have moved entire infrastructures to the cloud by adopting a “cloud-first” mindset, which involves a top-down strategy to make the move as efficient as possible. This approach allows for the greatest agility and speed to market, and permits systems to develop new capabilities at scale much faster. The cloud-first approach also means an organization implements cloud solutions first for all future services and applications, while marching towards a definitive plan of moving existing applications to the cloud.

2. Tactical Approach
Some organizations start the move to the cloud because current systems can no longer keep up with demand or to mitigate risks in their current architectural footprint. Examples include running out of hardware, not having a cloud DR, not having the capability to run a particular operation, or storage constraints. When sudden change drives need or resource limitations, the cloud can provide immediate relief by spinning up AWS resources on-demand, mitigating capacity constraints seen in traditional data centers.

3. Opportunistic Approach
New opportunities offer another way for government organizations to approach the cloud. Perhaps a new service like AppStream is added where a cloud solution is the obvious choice, or an agency has a short-term project that may temporarily require additional resources. This “baby step” approach lets organizations leverage one or more processes in the cloud, allowing them to get a feel for how it can work. Examples include creating new cloud workspace for users that are unable to get refreshed hardware, or remotely building new application(s) that integrate into the current applications.

4. Expansion/Upgrade Approach
Sometimes a system is operating just the way it needs to be, and the move to the public cloud occurs as a way to embrace new, available technology. There is an interest, at the leadership level, to explore cloud capability, understand its value, and validate a proof of concept. The benefit of this approach is that the system can shift at its own pace and not in response to an external factor.

Security – The Hidden Benefit

While many government organizations are motivated to move to the cloud for reasons of speed, scalability, opportunity, and cost, security is a quiet, hidden benefit of the AWS Cloud, which may come as a surprise for many decision-makers. The idea of maintaining control over one central data center might feel like a safe bet, but the fact is a data center is often easier to attack – and once the server is compromised, it is an arduous exercise to control the exposure. AWS Cloud solutions drastically minimize such risks as they are data-aware, able to immediately detect and isolate any abnormal file activity. And by spreading out your risk on an ecosystem of servers, you can recover data, perform important processes, and keep your system up and running in the case of a cyberattack, natural disaster, or other interruption. In a world where 10 billion cyberattacks occur per year², security is the nudge that should prompt government organizations to move more rapidly into one of the four approaches above.

Want to learn more best practices for migrating your organization or business unit to the AWS Cloud? Watch our related webinar to explore deeper or contact us today!

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