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The Top 5 Cloud Questions from Government Agencies
The reduced cost, flexibility and scalability of the cloud have increasingly made it the cornerstone of government agency operations. Analyst firm IDC predicts nearly 90 percent of new spending on Internet and communications will be on cloud-based platforms in the next six years. The hybrid cloud in particular, which offers agencies the control and security of a private cloud while allowing them to leverage the elasticity and scalability of a public cloud, has gained favor across all levels of government. In fact, 41 percent of respondents in a recent CDG survey felt hybrid was the best fit for their agency compared to public (27%) and private (23%).
As the leading data storage provider to the Federal government, NetApp receives a steady stream of questions from agency decision makers about the cloud. We selected five of the most common, and offer some context and answers to those popular questions.
How does the Cloud impact my current Data Center architecture?
The government and agency approach to data centers have evolved considerably from the days following the 2010 Data Center Consolidation Initiative (DCCI). No longer is the sole focus to shut down and consolidate data centers and server rooms; agencies are taking a more expansive look at their data management infrastructure and how best to manage data and run applications.
Ultimately, the cloud allows you to deploy new or existing applications for the workload at hand, with little or no disruption to your data center. Your architecture does not have to change—instead focus on how you manage your data—whether on premise or in the cloud. By leveraging the cloud, users are able to take advantage of its economics and elasticity while still maintaining control of their data. Build an architecture today that could serve your data needs now and into the future.
How can I take advantage of multiple Clouds?
Agencies seeking a balance between scalability and security will gravitate towards public compute and the use of public networks and servers – a hybrid cloud arrangement that allows agencies to maintain control of their data while fully maximizing cloud-computing economics. Cloud providers are increasingly delivering solutions that provide agencies with the ability to build logical separate and secured multi-tenant domains into their cloud-computing infrastructure. As a result, agencies can maintain stewardship of their data while safely and cost effectively consuming cloud services – making hybrid clouds an increasingly attractive option.
What we see today is agencies increasingly relying on multiple cloud providers, which introduces the challenge of managing data dispersed across all environments. Key to addressing this challenge is adopting a “data fabric.” Imagine if all the data management elements in the different clouds on which agencies place their data were well integrated, cohesive, and coherent, like a seamlessly woven fabric. This architecture is the data fabric for the hybrid cloud, and allows you to control, integrate, move, and consistently manage your data across the hybrid cloud.
How do I avoid vendor lock-in?
Cloud service providers are offering agencies compelling new services every day, but each of them can create an isolated, incompatible data silo that has to be managed differently. This effectively results in agencies losing control of their data, being unable to move it or share it easily, and having to rewrite their applications to use them on the cloud.
Consider the situation in which you want to put all of your money into a bank account for temporary safekeeping while you determine your investment strategy. A few months later, you want to move that money to a new bank, only to be told by the old bank that it’s their money and they control it, and that moving it requires converting it into a different currency that they do not carry. This is the scenario where the hybrid cloud comes in.
As agencies increasingly turn towards a hybrid cloud environment, they should have the freedom to choose where, how, and with whom to deploy a cloud without the fear of being locked-in. Whether public, private, or hybrid, it is the data and how to manage the data in the cloud that is key. Agencies, with a desire for choice, seek a hybrid cloud that does not lock them into any single provider or take away their leverage in negotiations. Be wary of vendors that offer no way to extract data, and seek out technology solutions and platforms that can be deployed on premise and in a range of clouds.
How can I control what happens to my data when it is in the cloud?
The answer is…. You can’t. Surprised? Cloud providers can give you assurance and provide you controls, but once your data goes into a cloud, it might as well be their data. Additionally, data governance is based on trust, and extracting that data back out of their cloud is often harder than it was to get it there in the first place.
This is why a data fabric is so critical. To maintain control of your data and manage risk, you need a seamless way to connect your different data environments in your different clouds into a cohesive, well-integrated fabric. This fabric allows you to operationalize the cloud without compromises, giving agencies a consistent way to manage, secure, and protect their data in all their clouds.
How do I determine what goes to the cloud and what remains on-premise?
Security is the driving factor in making the decision of what to keep on-premise or off. You need to maintain control over your organization’s data, but you also need innovative ways to speed responsiveness. Consider retaining full control of your data by storing it on a system you own and control, and then get compute from the cloud for uses such as long-term retention and archiving, backups, and test & development. With this hybrid model, you can manage your data seamlessly, and always make the best decisions for you and your organization.