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GCN : January and February 2017
CLOUD 3. Conversely, another common mis- take is not using native cloud services and instead running your own services on generic virtual machine instances. Although seemingly contra- dicting the customization argument above, even with the best provider some key advantages of the cloud can be missed by keeping things too simple. This is an easy mistake to make be- cause it seems that the best way to avoid cloud vendor lock-in is to build applications that can quickly be moved to other clouds. However, the result is spending an inordinate amount of upfront time reinventing the wheel while simultaneously ignoring one of the chief advantages of cloud infra- structure: high-value services that can be instantly created and consumed as needed without deployment or man- agement overhead. Even when using generic services such as Amazon Web Services’ Elastic Compute Cloud, Elastic Block Store or Simple Storage Service, some level of redesign will be required if applications move to another IaaS platform. 4. Data integrity problems are often due to inadequate design and testing of data migration and repli- cation systems and processes. Backup software and service providers are fond of touting surveys showing how few organizations have a disaster recov- ery plan and how many of those with a plan never test it. Despite vendors’ self-serving motives, it is true that IT organizations are as prone to procras- tination as anyone. A commitment to documenting details and validating re- sults is crucial when migrating critical data to the cloud. 5. A corollary is inadequate testing in general. Whether it’s applica- tion functionality, cloud administration and troubleshooting processes or secu- rity compliance, moving infrastructure to the cloud requires the same attention to implementation details as building a new data center. 6. Moving infrastructure to the cloud often leads to incomplete or inconsistent security policies that don’t adhere to established standards. All organizations have security require- ments for user access and authoriza- tion, network traffic, system and ap- plication configuration, event logging and monitoring. Those policies don’t change and might in fact become more stringent in the cloud. As Hudziak not- ed, it’s imperative that organizations maintain a multilevel defense posture when migrating to the cloud. 7-8. Two common mistakes in building hybrid cloud envi- ronments are overlooking application dependencies on on-premises data and IT services and network connec- tivity problems with virtual private network configurations, routing and remote network security policies. 9. It’s easy to forget that virtual cloud resources are supplied by physical servers running in actual data centers. Although spinning up a dozen virtual machines and a 1 terabyte SQL database in a matter of seconds seems like magic, the cloud cannot defy phys- ics. When deploying latency-sensitive applications, a common mistake is for- getting that distance and geography still matter. Applications that move a lot of data or manage user interfaces will perform better if the cloud provid- er has data centers or zones near your facilities. BIG BANG VS. INCREMENTAL Government IT departments face some unique challenges when migrating to the cloud because of regulatory, secu- rity and application requirements. Mis- takes can arise when providers are not adequately evaluated for their fit with current application requirements and user needs. But aside from the technical hurdles, IT leaders should not underestimate the organizational challenges of a cloud migration. “It really has to start at the top with buy-in from the CIO and senior leader- ship,” a General Services Administra- tion spokesman said. GSA, which man- ages the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and offers a range of cloud services through its various acquisition vehicles, has also learned to start small and not jeopar- dize ongoing operations. “Trying to transform an organiza- tion overnight — for example, asking them to move production to the cloud when previously it’s been off limits — can be an intimidating milestone for a traditional CIO organization,” the GSA official said. “So an effective approach creates a sandbox — contractually, tech- nically and organizationally — to allow the knowledge to incubate and grow.” Indeed, a bimodal IT structure can be an effective way to introduce cloud ser- vices at a government agency, often in concert with other innovative IT prac- tices such as DevOps, agile develop- ment, and continuous integration and delivery processes. Hudziak emphasized the importance of exploiting cloud services to do things in new ways and not just “lift and shift” an existing environment. “Making the move to the cloud should be taken as an opportunity to revisit the organization’s functional and business requirements,” he said. “CIOs should ask: Have we been doing things the way we have because the technology has historically forced us into that pattern?” GSA officials cited the example of NASA’s incremental approach to cloud migrations. NASA funded its first cloud contract with just $25,000 then doubled it as IT managers learned and grew confident in the technology. NASA officials realized that “a mas- sive broker contract was inefficient and instead separated out the roles of consumption metering and billing from consulting or the assistance with integration and delivery,” the GSA spokesman said. “This led to increased 20 GCN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 • GCN.COM 0217gcn_018-022.indd 20 2/1/17 3:06 PM
October and November 2016