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The Federal Government's Use of the Public Cloud Featured

The Federal Government's Use of the Public Cloud "The United States Capitol Rotunda"

The United States’ federal government is a major consumer of computing services. Previous articles have talked about the FedRAMP approval process used to ensure the security and functionality of cloud services before they can be adopted by any federal agencies. This time, we are going to look at how cloud services are being used by the civilian arm of the Federal Government.

The  Federal Cloud Computing Strategy

Cloud Smart is the name given to the updated 2019 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy. The document presents a path that agencies can follow to migrate safely and securely to a cloud infrastructure. Cloud Smart’s goal is to provide agencies with the tools, knowledge, and flexibility to use the cloud to address their specific needs. The strategy focuses on three key areas related to the migration from on-premises computing environments to the cloud.

  • Security policies have been modernized to address risk-based decision-making, automation, and enforcing tighter security on data resources.
  • Procurement has been streamlined to enable agencies to benefit from shared knowledge and repeatable processes when purchasing cloud solutions.
  • Workforce issues will be addressed by a drive to retrain and recruit the appropriate personnel in disciplines such as cybersecurity and cloud engineering.

The Chief Information Officers Council has created a list of 22 actions that speak to these three areas and that will pave the way for agencies to accelerate the adoption of cloud technologies. Some highlights of the actions include:

  • Creating a centralized repository to share knowledge and best practices regarding the transition to cloud technologies;
  • Developing a policy that covers infrastructure optimization;
  • Updating the Identity, Credential, and Access Management (ICAM) Policy;
  • Implementing FedRAMP effectively to expedite the adoption of low-risk Software-as-a-Service offerings;
  • Providing direction to agencies to facilitate the security and visibility of data managed in the cloud;
  • Developing a pay scale and compensation strategy to ensure that top technical talent can be recruited and retained.

Agencies that are interested in migrating to cloud services can avail themselves of the resources developed through these actions to ease their transition. The Cloud Smart strategy ensures that all federal agencies approach cloud computing from the same perspective.

The Current Federal Cloud Computing Market

The demand for cloud solutions from federal agencies is estimated to be $6.8 billion in 2020 with expected growth to $7.8 billion in 2022. Key findings from the GovWin Federal Market Analysis team describe several trends in the use of cloud offerings by the federal government.

  • Spending is up on Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service solutions while decreasing on Infrastructure-as-a-Service. This may indicate that the majority of agencies have obtained sufficient cloud infrastructure which will now be used to modernize their software portfolios.
  • A new Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) policy has removed impediments to the adoption of cloud connectivity solutions.
  • Concerns about data management and security are influencing agencies to use cloud services that are more secure than their legacy data centers.

COVID-19 has contributed to the need for cloud solutions that address a remote workforce in many federal agencies just as it has impacted society as a whole. The future looks bright for providers who can meet the requirements of the federal government as its migration continues to pick up speed.

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 Robert Agar

I am a freelance writer who graduated from Pace University in New York with a Computer Science degree in 1992. Over the course of a long IT career I have worked for a number of large service providers in a variety of roles revolving around data storage and protection. I currently reside in northeastern Pennsylvania where I write from my home office.