Innovation in Government

Cloud, automation to help solve growing complexities in agency missions

Bill Rowan, the vice president of federal sales for VMware, said the desire for mobility is driving agencies toward cloud services and software-defined networking to make data and applications available anywhere, at any time.

Federal spending on cloud computing services is expected to see a small drop this year, but return to significant growth in between 2018 and 2021. Research firms IDC Government Insights predicts the federal market for public cloud services will almost double to more than $1.8 billion over the next four years.  Hybrid, community and private cloud also will see growth with total cloud spending across the government expected to reach more than $3.2 billion by 2021.

The move to the cloud becomes more important as budgets tighten. As we saw with the White House’s fiscal 2018 budget request to Congress, many agencies would see double digit reductions in discretionary spending, meaning moving off of costly legacy systems become more important than ever.

In many ways, agencies have a perfect storm of opportunity–a maturing technology in cloud and software defined networking, a growing trust in these technologies and the continued budget imperative to take advantage of the real savings and advanced capabilities that come from these technologies.

Bill Rowan, the vice president of federal sales for VMware, said agencies have spent much of the past eight years picking the low-hanging cloud fruit. But now are ready to move into the more complex, mission area systems into public, private, community and hybrid clouds.

“We still see agencies continuing to virtualize their internal infrastructure. If you look at most organizations on the aggregate, they are about 45 percent of the way done. Then you see the other camps that are saying ‘I have this new application or new offering and I’m going to look to a cloud service provider,” Rowan said. “In fact, today, most of VMWare’s deployments of our mobile device management solution are done from a FedRAMP cloud provider. They are not done on premise deployment, which tells me agencies are now really understanding how to harness the power from both particular camps.”

Rowan said most agencies will have multiple cloud providers and will be leverage virtualization investments in all cloud environments.

“Agencies have learned they can have the best of both worlds,” he said. “They will be in the driver’s seat because they will be able to look at the application and say this application could be with this partner this year and next year simply move it over to another cloud provider and take the cost benefit that comes with potentially those moves. If you look at where most of the Fortune 500 are with using cloud, the government mirrors pretty well where they are and I think the enterprise of the Fortune 500 are doing the exact same thing with what the government is looking to do.”

The move to the cloud and technologies such as software-defined networking will open the door for more automation.

“The more we can automate and remove the self-inflicted wounds that can be created, the better off we will be and the better we will the return on investment longer-term,” Rowan said. “Greater automation will lead to better cybersecurity and better hygiene in the long run. It’s not just about uptime. It’s not just about load balancing, but it’s also about how do we build a more thorough, a more cohesive security strategy across the board. We think automation can add a tremendous amount to it.”

He said agencies would benefit from automation especially during an attack because the software can isolate the malware, protect other connected systems and begin the recovery and mitigation processes.

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