Cloud after COVID – FCW
Cloud after COVID
More than a year of pandemic operations has changed the government’s vision of cloud-centric modernization
The past 15 months have reinforced the importance of migrating employee and customer systems to the cloud, but many agencies are still far from the desired end state. In some cases, the budget and leadership buy-in remains insufficient, and the challenges of moving to zero-trust security are looming for virtually every organization.
FCW recently brought together a group of IT leaders to explore how a year of maximum teleworking and almost all-digital operations has changed the role cloud services play in supporting agency missions. The discussion has been recorded but not for individual attribution (see below for list of participants), and quotes have been edited for length and clarity. Here is what the group had to say.
Collaboration is a game changer
Perhaps the most significant change participants observed was the way cloud collaboration tools took hold. âWe have taken advantage of many collaboration applications available on cloud platforms,â said a manager of a smaller agency. âWe didn’t expect to need it so much.
Director of Operations, Cloud Computing Program Office, Ministry of Defense
Head of Customer Engagement, National Technical Information Service
Leader, SLG AWS Digital Government, Global Public Sector, Amazon Web Services
Interim CIO, National Technical Information Service
CIO / G-6, Army Corps of Engineers
Paul Puckett III
Chief, Office of Enterprise Cloud Management, Department of the Army
IT director associated with acquisition IT services, general services administration
Vice-President, Public Sector, CrowdStrike
To note: FCW editor-in-chief Troy K. Schneider chaired the panel discussion. The June 8 rally was funded by CrowdStrike and Amazon Web Services, but the substance of the discussion and the recap of these pages are strictly editorial products. Neither the sponsors nor any of the roundtable participants commented beyond their June 8 comments.
The adoption of new services also made it possible to relaunch work on existing systems. âOther collaboration tools where work has stagnated over the years are suddenly brought to the fore,â said an executive from a larger agency, adding that the challenge now is âhow to connect them all to ensure that they continue to give us the capabilities we need? “
âThere is no question that COVID has dramatically changed the way we do business in the company,â said another participant. âThe ability to collaborate has been a game changer. And I think we let the genie out of the bottle. So now we have people who have never had the opportunity to collaborate like they can today and who expect everything to be okay. “
The biggest example of collaboration was Commercial Virtual Remote – the Department of Defense’s emergency deployment of Microsoft teams for the entire DOD. At the time of the roundtable, CVR was only days away from closing its doors in favor of permanent service specific rentals. Across the DOD and in civilian agencies, the new expectation “is that this is the way we’re going to work,” one official said. âSo how do we keep this? “
Improving identity, credentials and access management will be key, another participant said, especially with the shift from military personnel to multiple systems. âBeing able to easily bring people into the collaborative space – identity is key,â he said. âSo we have to make sure we’re doing it right, but we have to act quickly because the expectation is that if we don’t, they’ll call in two weeks and say, ‘Turn on the CVR. ‘”
The virtualized working environment brought other complications. One executive recalled organizing a call to discuss security concerns with a wide range of stakeholders. Over 100 attendees called or logged into the platform, and organizers quickly realized that there was no way to easily identify callers. Unable to map names to phone numbers, “we just decided to kill the call”.
The lesson is that âthese types of communication platforms are going to be exploited, and there are new challenges around limits and security controls that we now need to look at further,â said the participant.
âI think the key for everyone is really to think about the user story,â another official said. âWho are the users who need to be able to access these vital systems to do their jobs? How hard are you going to make it difficult for them? If you make it too difficult, guess what? They will find other ways that are not sure to do the same. You make them do it in an insecure way because you make it so difficult that it just doesn’t work.
Understand the security challenges
Another official said: “We really need to think about safety and the things that we were doing around it to make sure that we can continue to do it in a safe and secure manner, while also maximizing some of the traction that we ‘re doing. did last year.