As the cloud market has matured, informed buyers recognize that not every application or service belongs in the cloud, and that no single cloud will meet all of an organization’s needs. The key is to zero in on the “what” (what services and applications are required and what are the measures of delivery success), without getting hung up on the “how” (such as how the underlying infrastructure or technology is delivered).
Determining which applications go where
For U.S. federal government agencies, evaluating technology needs from an enterprise-wide standpoint provides insight into which technologies are appropriate for the cloud, and how those technologies must interoperate to achieve the best results.
Of course, agencies don’t have the luxury of building from scratch. They must start with what they have, set a course to meet their mission and business needs, and resist the urge to be driven by enticing new technology alone. Starting with its existing portfolio, an agency can quickly triage its holdings into several groupings to understand where applications are best situated:
- Legacy systems and applications – evaluate for transformation or a shared service model
- Applications with sensitive information – evaluate security needs to consider on-premises or private cloud delivery
- Remaining services and application needs – evaluate for cloud suitability
Evaluating delivery options for best fit
With a smaller pool of services and applications to evaluate for the cloud, a cost and fit assessment will then help agencies determine the best environment for achieving the most efficient and cost-effective delivery. Options may include cloud platforms, co-location, managed hosting and traditional on-premises approaches. A full understanding of the baseline costs and total cost of ownership (TCO) for all available options is needed to make informed decisions.
The reality is that some agencies have not realized anticipated savings in the cloud because they encountered unexpected costs. They may not have adjusted their baseline or were surprised by extra charges for services they thought were included. For example, if the baseline environment is not compliant with current federal requirements, there are additional costs and efforts to achieve compliance.
In evaluating cloud service providers (CSPs), the “pay-as-you-go” model may promise the lowest costs, but costs for key services such as patching, scanning and monitoring may not be included in the base price. Additionally, there may be extra risks in using CSPs that do not accept Federal Acquisition Regulation flow downs or that charge agencies to take their data elsewhere.
A hybrid IT forecast
The future of cloud is bright—albeit complex. More hybrid-cloud solutions have appeared, and the maturation of the cloud brokerage model will help agencies manage and move services as they seek the most efficient delivery. Many agencies likely will operate in an environment that uses the cloud in combination with on-premises and hybrid solutions.
Rather than considering which specific infrastructure or individual cloud provider to adopt, federal agencies may be better served envisioning a hybrid model that potentially leverages multiple environments to efficiently meet business, security and system needs. Such environments require a holistic strategy backed by solid governance to minimize cost, risk and “sprawl” and to maximize agility and value.
As a trusted advisor that understands cloud-based delivery in the federal market based on numerous client requirements, we developed our CGI Unify360 hybrid IT management suite to help clients pursue a best-fit delivery strategy for their applications and services. We also can help them better manage multisourcing services integration in their hybrid IT environments.
About this author
Vice-President, CGI Federal Emerging Technologies Practice
As the Cloud Practice Lead within CGI Federal’s Emerging Technologies Practice, John supports client relationship development for the federal market, as well as opportunities around the globe. He oversees technical delivery and consulting services and the CGI Unify360 hybrid IT management suite. John joined CGI ...
My company has a large Capex budget but limited Opex budget. Everything in the cloud is considered as a service, thus everything should be accounted for as expenses... so it can be a no go simply based on budget structure. So cloud development tools exist, but i doubt that companies can capitalize any of the apps developed this way for internal use. Any thoughts on this?
Hi, JF. If you are able to accurately predict your yearly cloud utilization, look to take advantage of individual CSPs’ pricing and payment options. For example, AWS offers “Reserved Instances” for many of their EC3 services that can provide significant savings while shifting the purchase to a more traditional CAPEX model. When these options aren’t available for PaaS or SaaS types of cloud-based services such as the development tools you mentioned, check the reseller and VAR market for options to “pre-purchase” these offerings. This may require a multi-year commitment, but a large reseller is often able to provide discounts due to their higher volumes of cloud consumption.