A Cloudy Forecast for Government

The need for cloud computing has moved beyond simple cost-saving calculations. The elasticity and scalability of cloud meet the demands citizens have for digital services to be efficient and personalized. Cloud is also critical for AI adoption, providing the processing power needed to facilitate the training and use of AI models.

Government Moves to Mostly Cloudy

Based on these capabilities, the use of cloud is increasing. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that the use of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) increased by about 60% between July 2019 and April 2023.

GAO also discovered that actual cloud usage is even higher than FedRAMP numbers show. Several agencies disclosed that they used services that were not FedRAMP-authorized, despite the fact that using authorized providers is required. The reasons cited for purchasing outside of FedRAMP were the pace of approval for needed cloud solutions and the complexity of the program requirements for small, emerging vendors.

Managing the Cloudy Conditions

The 17th edition of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard introduced measurement of agencies' adherence to cloud policies and practices. The latest scorecard looked at how agencies are meeting the five requirements of the Office of Management and Budget's Federal Cloud Computing Strategy.

Most agencies received failing grades in this category due, in large part, to a lack of service-level agreements (SLAs). With these failings pointed out, agencies now have to work on putting defined service levels in place with vendors and ensuring the levels are standardized and measured.

Bright Spots in a Cloudy Future

Now with cloud so widely used, agencies are facing the challenge of managing multiple clouds. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is establishing a cloud center of excellence to manage its cloud computing environments. The agency is implementing a data mesh approach to ensure that business users across the organization, regardless of location, can easily access the data they need to do their job. The center of excellence will coordinate the selection of cloud platforms to ensure compatibility with needed tasks, security requirements, and user functionality. The center will also work to eliminate duplication of cloud services, ensuring a more efficient cloud architecture.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is "all in" on cloud with a goal to move all systems to the cloud. Today, the VA runs more than 1,000 systems on multiple clouds and in physical data centers across 2,900 locations, reaching more than 700,000 devices. The agency is working to standardize on core cloud platforms and then get people that can develop on those platforms to meet the varied needs of the Department.

There are a number of great resources to help navigate the evolution of cloud environments in government.

  • Securing the Cloud (March 21, 2024; webcast) - This virtual workshop will review cloud computing security best practices, including the review and updating of existing IT guidelines, controls, and processes, with the specific goal of protecting data and systems while also meeting regulatory obligations.
  • An Introduction to the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) (March 21, 2024; webcast) - Join the General Services Administration (GSA), Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, and the FedRAMP Program Management Office (PMO) as they team up to provide guidance to small business CSPs interested in becoming FedRAMP authorized.
  • Next '24 (April 9-11, 2024; Las Vegas, NV) - At Google Cloud Next '24, you'll learn from thought leaders, understand perspectives from Google Cloud customers and partners, and gain interactive experience in areas like security and cloud operations.
  • Hybrid Cloud Best Practices (June 6, 2024; webcast) - This virtual workshop will share examples of successful hybrid cloud deployments and associated lessons learned, including tips for securing hybrid cloud environments, understanding common risks, and compatibility between legacy applications and new services.
  • Navigating Complexity and Uncertainty in Cloud Computing (white paper) - In a recent roundtable discussion, experts from federal agencies shared their experiences navigating the complexities of cloud computing.
  • Cloud Technology Trends and Predictions for 2024 (white paper) - Cloud has always been much more than just a technology. Its anytime, anywhere accessibility is what has made it a game-changer, a force to be reckoned with. However, evolution is the name of the game, and while cloud computing matures and becomes more pervasive, the cloud landscape is transforming faster than ever before.
  • Cloud Native vs. Cloud Smart: Cloud Success Reimagined (white paper) - As agencies reflect on the various approaches to migrating legacy systems to the cloud, several roadblocks have emerged, in addition to several strategies that have proven to help agencies mitigate risks and reimagine cloud success. Learn from government experts as they share the strategies, challenges, and successes they have had with cloud migration.

To continue exploring the cloud check out additional resources on GovEvents and GovWhitePapers.

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