4 cloud trends you need to know about
Emerging trends federal managers need to be aware of
There are certain things that shape an organization’s cloud strategy, and those things change year to year as new technologies and capabilities emerge. Last year — and to some extent this year — mobile devices and the bring-your-own-device model have pushed CIOs to adopt cloud services more quickly and extensively. Budget cuts have defined the cloud arena over the past five years, and the government sector has its own mandate to follow the cloud-first policy. Still, with cloud services becoming more mainstream, the trends and implementations of tomorrow will have less to do with technology and budgets and more to do with getting the most out of the cloud offerings an agency has or is looking to implement. Here are four cloud trends that might shape every agency’s cloud strategy in the next 12 to 36 months.
The emergence of cloud brokers. The term might conjure up images of a shady character reselling cloud services, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Cloud brokers handle two major tasks: They negotiate relationships between cloud providers and those looking to purchase cloud services, and they act as a go-between once a relationship is struck, handling performance issues as well as other service- and quality-related problems that might come up.
Although only a few organizations are taking advantage of cloud brokers, even those in the government sector can see the potential benefits of having an expert on hand to act as a representative. The General Services Administration this year released a request for information for cloud brokerage services. The response was so great that it extended the deadline to Sept. 7. GSA has previously worked with six agencies to explore the cloud broker concept.
“One of the things that’s still trying to be fleshed out is what the responsibilities would be [for a public-sector cloud broker]. GSA had an industry day where this was discussed,” explains Alex Rossino, principal research analyst at Deltek, a Herndon, Va.-based provider of software, services and research. Some of the big topics that GSA is grappling with include compliance, security and interoperability.
Big data in the cloud. Big data on its own is an industry buzzword. It seems as though everyone — from vendors to integrators to users — is talking about big data as a way to pull more value out of an organization while improving innovation. In fact, according to a recent Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) report, “The Convergence of Big Data Processing and Integrated Infrastructure,” 39 percent of IT staffers surveyed said they were going to change their analytics platform to support big data.
The public sector is just as interested in big data, with some agencies falling into the early-adopter category. However, that doesn’t mean anyone is rushing to integrate it with the cloud, says Evan Quinn, a senior principal analyst at ESG. “Yes, agencies are looking at big data, but in an on-premises type of approach,” he says. Security is too much of an issue, as is latency, but these things should be overcome as technology continues to evolve.
HTML5. While this latest revision of the HTML standard doesn’t seem like it would fit with cloud computing, it is something that every agency should cultivate within its ranks, says ESG’s Quinn. “It’s a great normalizing force when you have process and data in the cloud,” he explains. Using HTML5, the IT department can allow users to access cloud services from anywhere and on any device because it’s rich enough that the majority of applications and applied technology can support it. “It means that IT doesn’t have to make application choices based around operating systems,” says Quinn. “It provides a way for end users to consume cloud-based services.”
WAN optimization. The development of new technologies and services around wide-area network optimization has come about due to need. As more data and applications reside in the cloud, IT must be careful to provide a quality of service that rivals that of an on-premises network. There are software and hardware options available for WAN optimization. Some companies look to improve WAN performance by reducing WAN traffic via collocation and caching. Others are looking to new spectrum, taking traffic airborne to reduce latency, while others rely on appliances or software installed at the endpoint. “These capabilities are really being designed for the distributed workforce and will apply to federal agencies since they have staffers all over the world,” says Deltek’s Rossino.