CIOs and CTOs are clear concerning the advantages of cloud services:
- They scale instantly
- No capital investments
- Better performance
And they point to the increasing ubiquity of cloud services for business processes, from data backup to supply chain management. Indeed, cloud migration of enterprise apps is more of a given than a question. According to Jeffrey Mann, Research Vice President at Gartner, “Cloud will increasingly be the default option for software deployment.”
Yet when it comes to migrating popular intelligent enterprise platforms like SAP to the cloud — particularly for highly regulated, government agencies — the same CIOs and CTOs are more measured in their enthusiasm. IT, ERP, and ERM software is not only complex, it’s mission critical and typically heavily customized. The cost benefits and innovation acceleration point to the fact that its future is in the cloud, but getting there isn’t always easy. Mann continues: “The same is true for custom software, which increasingly is designed for some variation of public or private cloud.”
If done right, operating enterprise platforms in the cloud means a lot more than meeting a cloud-first milestone and converting capital expenditures into operational costs. It means accessing technologies that are the most up to date in terms of capabilities and security from respective vendors. It means vendors can better support customers in terms of scalability and even predicative support. It means customers have access to a continuously-evolving development operations pipeline to then focus their attention and people “higher up the stack” on higher-value tasks.
This is a force multiplier for your agency, and the benefits are demonstrable:
- Security — FedRAMP-authorized cloud service providers handle security and regulatory requirements within the U.S. government’s most rigorous security compliance framework.
- Compliance — Policies and controls can be natively incorporated rather than added on, enabling immediate compliance and faster ATOs.
- Performance — Applications can be continually optimized, meaning operations benefit from innovations and performance enhancements much faster.
- Maintenance – Consumption-based metrics allow vendors to be pro-active in how software is supported and maintained, thus substantially reducing the current “balloon payment” of heavy customization.
Moving complex, intelligent enterprise systems to the cloud takes time. But by partnering with the right managed-service provider, one with proven experience and specialized expertise, the time frame can be reduced from years to months. It’s also possible to transition without interrupting agency services.
How to Evaluate Managed-Service Providers
Three essential criteria define providers who can successfully migrate your operations to the cloud: institutional depth, security infrastructure, and accountability. With these three qualities working together, your journey will be faster and your agency’s mission will be empowered.
- Depth — A provider with institutional depth leverages multi-cloud support including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. They can handle the entire intelligent enterprise environment with demonstrable database experience across all major vendors. Here, “depth” is conveyed as the experience by the managed-service provider to offer customers “choice,” and expertise with the specific applications you’ll be operating is a huge plus.
- Security — Look for a comprehensive, multilayer approach to security that covers underlying infrastructure, mission data, and your applications. The provider has to holistically address customized configurations, integrations, vulnerabilities, and data sensitivity. Data centers should be operated by U.S. persons on U.S. soil. FedRAMP and DoD Cloud SRG levels must comply with your specific data and application-level requirements. Note that taking large-scale, customized systems on end-of-life hardware to the cloud requires specialized skills that are beyond most managed-service providers. Encryption and compliance setups must be tailored to mission and environment requirements.
- Accountability — Make sure a provider offers appropriate support- and business-level accountability guarantees, and that they have a record of following through. SLAs should be custom designed for data and application uptime in production and development environments, as well as for any unique mission demands. Ideally, you’ll have a single point of contact, a success manager who ensures your cloud environment is optimized and that you understand and fully leverage the solution.
Choose Carefully Now, Reap Rewards for Decades
Securely migrating complex, heavily customized, and highly regulated enterprise apps to the cloud may sound like something to put off until you’re at another pay grade. But it’s not that hard when you choose a managed-services provider with the skills and experience outlined above. Choose a provider who’s dedicated to ensuring known-good-state 24/7 and to optimizing your mission-critical systems by fully leveraging the latest technological innovations.
And make sure you thoroughly evaluate the SAP NS2 Cloud. It provides government and highly regulated customers with scalable, high-performance cloud offerings ranging from Software as a Service (SaaS) to platform solutions. Above and beyond the cloud infrastructure, NS2 Cloud SLAs offer accountability at the application / database level. By leveraging industry best practices across diverse applications, the NS2 Cloud empowers you to operate in a secure environment with world-class, comprehensive services and support.