With the continued drumbeat from the U.S. Federal Government on consolidating data centers and shifting to a ‘Cloud First’ policy, it is natural for some skeptics to discount the impact of these changes which are taking place within our marketplace. I recently came across this speech by the Federal CIO where he describes in his own words the ‘Federal Cloud Computing Strategy.’
After watching this video, I began to reflect on recent conversations my colleagues and I have had with our customers on what they are doing to apply this strategy to their agency and planning for making the transition to execution. The typical questions are:
1. We need to identify our three cloud projects. What types of cloud projects have been completed successfully?
2. We see change management as our biggest barrier to adoption of cloud services. What are the key things we need to get right?
3. We understand the majority of cloud projects have been focused on migrating email or developing net new government services, what do I do about my mission critical legacy applications?
Collectively, these questions provide some grounding on the amount of work ahead for all of us as we help our client’s transition from strategy to execution. So, in the spirit of an open dialogue between government and industry, I thought I would offer up some recommendations.
1. This one is easy – Email, Web-Hosting, and Development/Testing as a Service. If you have not already embarked on these projects, you should strongly consider them. There are numerous examples in the Federal Government as well as other large public sector entities (i.e. City of Los Angeles and UK Royal Mail Group).
2. These are simple to say but hard to execute well. Remember to:
- Follow a structured process to develop a strategy and roadmap. If you do not have one or the talent to perform it internally; look for a partner with experience in executing their own cloud services roadmap.
- Follow a portfolio management process which involves agency mission and IT leadership to build the roadmap and make the key decisions on which applications and enterprise services they will support moving to the cloud and when.
- Budget for change management. This journey is a marathon and not a sprint. Treat this like any other strategic change program (i.e. ERP Modernization).
- Learn from others successes and failures and execute flawlessly on your three cloud projects. Again, project selection is critical (See recommendation one).
3. This one is not so easy, but perhaps the most critical one since the majority of IT spend is here, the impact on the mission is obviously highest and the change most significant. This is also the area where there is the least amount of consensus. I think the path to answering this question is in the question we have been asked several times; ‘What are commercial companies buying or planning to buy over the next few years? I do not want to be in a position of funding the ‘next legacy’ technology in 10 years.
There are many additional questions that will need to be answered as this shift takes place. It will be interesting to see how the evolution of cloud unfolds as adoption rates increase in both the public and private sector.