Over the past decade, public sector organizations have been focused on digitally transforming government operations and services to improve quality, efficiency, and effectiveness. Faced with government initiatives, policies for securing sensitive information, and restrictive budgets, government IT leaders are under immense pressure to adopt the public cloud.
Agencies and departments are now encountering new obstacles as they modernize legacy systems, seek to strengthen cybersecurity, and develop a cloud strategy. However, effective cloud management doesn’t begin or end with the development of a cloud strategy. Government organizations need to execute on their cloud strategy and maintain alignment with the organization's mission over time.
In this article, we break down common challenges public sector organizations face when migrating to or operating in the cloud, along with six best practices for successful cloud management.
Six best practices for successful cloud management
1. Solidify a migration strategy
For organizations just beginning their cloud journey, migration is a key component of their overall cloud strategy. There’s tremendous pressure to accomplish so much with tight budgets and strict regulatory requirements. The first question to ask is which applications and workloads should be migrated to the cloud, taking into account whether they’re critical in terms of operating costs or important for aligning to the agency’s overall mission. Applications or workloads that do not fall into the aforementioned categories should be classified as a lower priority for migration.
There are several options for migration, including lift and shift, partial refactor, full refactor, and incorporating software-as-a-service or platform-as-a-service. Some cloud management platforms are able to help government agencies move faster in their migration process.
For example, the CloudHealth Hybrid Migration Assessment analyzes your physical and virtual servers and generates migration recommendations based on your existing configuration or the cloud provider(s) being utilized. Organizations can evaluate the cost of migrating to the cloud with a side-by-side comparison of on-premises costs versus cloud configuration costs, and leverage recommendations based on asset types, region, reservations, and projected costs—all of which can help ease the burden of migration planning.
2. Build a Cloud Center of Excellence
As the digitization of public services continues, organizations are establishing a cross-functional group, commonly referred to as a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE), to support and govern the execution of the organization's cloud strategy.
Members of the CCoE are seen as advisors who provide best practices, architectural standards, and guidance to agencies and departments across three areas of excellence: cloud financial management, cloud operations, and cloud security and compliance. Members are usually key stakeholders from each area of excellence, along with various other business and department leaders. You can see how the Financial Times accelerates digital transformation with a CCoE in our article here.
3. Align business context to data
As government agencies and departments increasingly consume cloud resources to modernize operations and deliver improved services, they need to maintain control over their cloud spend. A preliminary component to budget adherence is gaining visibility into all cloud resources and implementing a consistent tagging strategy in order to better identify and allocate spend and usage.
Taking this a step further, many cloud management platforms have the ability to group resources in a way that’s meaningful to the organization, such as building dynamic business groups by project, environment, department, owner, etc. (in CloudHealth these are known as Perspectives). This granular visibility will help the CCoE and finance leaders identify misconfigured and non-compliant assets, establish showback and/or chargeback, and determine KPIs and metrics to measure on an ongoing basis.
4. Optimize resource cost and utilization
In order to eliminate waste and reduce operational costs in the cloud, public sector organizations and government agencies need to continuously optimize their infrastructure. Optimization can take several forms, such as decommissioning idle or unused infrastructure, rightsizing assets, and identifying opportunities to take advantage of pricing discounts offered by cloud service providers.
In a growing cloud environment, organizations using manual analytic models across tens of thousands of resources often find it difficult and overwhelming to rightsize their environment—a challenge that worsens as they increase their use of cloud services and discounts, or adopt a multi-cloud strategy.
A cloud management platform can be a trusted source to help reduce management overhead by identifying optimization opportunities and recommending discounts for the best return on investment.
5. Centralize cloud governance
With restrictive budgets and lean hiring plans, it’s critical for public sector organizations to maximize the resources at their disposal. Defining policies is the most efficient way to manage scaling cloud infrastructure. Cloud governance policies can proactively alert on any irregularities, such as cost spikes, tagging compliance issues, security vulnerabilities, and more, across the different business units and departments that consume cloud resources.
Depending on the cloud management platform, the sophistication of policies can range from a simple email notification to an automated action, such as terminating unused infrastructure. Taking the initial step from governance alerting to governance automation can be daunting, so we recommend starting with an approval workflow before action is taken, and progress to full automation over time.
6. Integrate cloud and business KPIs
The ultimate goal of cloud management is to fully integrate the cloud into your business, with the key being to embed cloud management processes into the day-to-day of users both inside and outside of IT.
To measure the impact of cloud consumption, departments need to align cloud and operational KPIs with the organization’s business KPIs. These KPIs may include time to bring new services to market, the number of compliance issues open, citizen satisfaction, and more. This article goes into more detail about KPIs you should measure across cloud visibility, optimization, governance, automation, and business integration.
By adopting the public cloud, public sector organizations can increase operational efficiency, reduce IT spend, boost speed and agility, and improve the effectiveness of their services. However, without proper cloud management, the challenges could outweigh the benefits.
With a cloud management solution and adherence to the six best practices listed above, organizations shouldn’t hesitate migrating to the cloud or taking advantage of its many benefits.
Learn more about public sector cloud management in our complete whitepaper: The State of Public Sector Cloud Management