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Take the plunge: 4 steps to cloud migration

The U.S. business environment has been transformed by cloud computing. The technology has helped companies cut costs and increase their agility by allowing them to scale resources up and down according to need. According to a recent IDC survey, businesses cited  improved manageability, less maintenance and lower cost of service as the main reasons why they have moved to the cloud. Although  cloud spending in 2016 was only $38 billion in 2016 -- a fraction of the overall $1.5 trillion computing figure -- such a sizeable figure suggests widespread embrace of the  technology.

Nevertheless,  government agencies have been slow to adopt cloud computing. Although some have been reluctant to make the change, primarily because of privacy concerns, tight budgets and regulatory requirements, many state and local government agencies are starting to move on cloud projects.

Agencies that are just getting started on cloud projects should follow these best practices.

1. Accept migration challenges. First of all, understand that migration is going to cause some disruption in operational processes and costs.

To save money down the line, agencies may endure a temporary IT cost spikes. Cloud migration is what people sometimes call a “high-involvement process” -- making a fundamental shift from one paradigm to another. In the past, IT was paid as a fixed asset to maintain; now funding IT is a pay-as-you-go operational cost in the cloud. This change requires additional IT staff training, the implementation of new business processes and the modification of existing business processes.

This may seem daunting at first, but in the long run, migrating to the cloud will allow public-sector organizations to devote fewer resources to daily tasks like maintenance so they can focus teams on more important things like IT flexibility, collaboration, security, services and increasing innovation.

2. Develop a game plan. One of the pitfalls of moving to the cloud is that no organization is immune to risk, and with a new environment human error may play a larger role. Agencies must have confidence in the security, safety and reliability of cloud computing in order for its services to be effective.

To prepare IT teams to assess risks and plan for any type of surprise that they might come across, public-sector organizations should implement a game plan that starts with identifying which applications should be migrated to the cloud. Agencies should consider applications that are running on legacy or underutilized infrastructure or that are well suited for public cloud such as database, high-performance or analytic workloads. 

3. Break down on-premises costs. Some applications are more resource intensive than others. Understanding the cost of running applications on-premises can help determine which applications are more cost effective to run in the cloud. Factors to consider include labor cost, network usage, server utilization and the physicl space occupied by IT infrastructure.

After deciding which applications to migrate, agencies should look for cost savings opportunities offered by cloud providers. Amazon Web Services, for example, offers agencies a 72 percent discount in the GovCloud Region and up to 75 percent in other Regions, if they lock in their EC2 purchases up front for three years.

4. Take the plunge. When are you ready to take the plunge? You’ll know when taken the following steps: You’ve evaluated your applications, you’ve gained a level of understanding about the costs associated with your cloud configuration and you’ve scoped out the resources to manage the ongoing costs from a cloud provider.

When new resources need to be provisioned, the cloud lets government agencies circumvent long procurement processes. Moreover, organizations will always have access to the most up-to-date technologies without having to implement new upgrades or deal with any other maintenance procedures.

Cloud services give agencies a way to scale as demand for services grows, and they can help save money delivering existing programs and services and in implementing new ones.

Conclusion

Cloud adoption in the public sector is steadily growing. Using some of the many modern cloud services on the market, organizations with heightened sensitivity to security and compliance concerns can safely migrate mission-critical applications to the public cloud and maintain the same levels of policy and governance that they require to operate. For those progressive government agencies that are paving the way today, choosing a sound migration strategy is vital to their success.

About the Author

John Purcell is vice president, products, at CloudHealth Technologies.

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