Automated core networks key to cloud migration success

INDUSTRY INSIGHT

Automated core networks key to cloud migration success

It’s been five years since then-U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra announced the cloud-first strategy for the federal government. The initiative urged agencies to migrate to cloud computing and capitalize on its benefits, including data center consolidation, improved agency agility and the increased ability to support government innovation.

Since Kundra’s memo, agencies have made progress migrating to cloud.  Over the 2015 Labor Day weekend,  for example, the Federal Communications Commission moved 200 servers to a commercial cloud data center.  Other agencies, however, have struggled to get their cloud migration projects off the ground and realize savings the federal government envisioned.

While cloud still holds tremendous promise, agencies must move at their own pace to make it work for them, whether that involves a public, private or hybrid cloud. To make cloud migration initiatives a success, agencies should consider taking the following actions to ensure their networks can support their cloud visions:

Leverage FedRAMP processes.  Working through the Federal Risk and Assessment Management Program can help agencies understand the impact cloud has on core network services such as the Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and IP address management.  FedRAMP allows agencies to evaluate the sensitivity of the data they plan to migrate and how a particular cloud solution will impact their overall IT infrastructure security. Agencies should take advantage of this opportunity to determine whether their network is structured to support cloud solutions that require virtualization. For example, an agency can use FedRAMP to determine if it has enough IP addresses available for a new cloud solution -- a basic prerequisite for migration.

Automate provisioning of network services: Automating compute and storage capabilities alone will not ensure a successful cloud implementation. When a cloud solution is connected to the network, there are more IP addresses to be assigned than can be done manually. Moreover, because manual provisioning is prone to costly human errors, automated IP address management ensures addresses are properly assigned. The same principle applies to provisioning DNS. Automating DNS provisioning lets network administrators quickly gain insight into who accesses the network and the cloud, which is critical from both a performance and a security standpoint.

Gain visibility into the network: Many agencies are using multiple cloud solutions, which can create inconsistency across networks and prevent them from tracking cloud-based resources, security risks and compliance. Agencies must gain visibility into the network to manage a cloud system in which one network administrator manages a traditional data center while another is on a private cloud solution. Consistent DNS and IP address management protocols streamline troubleshooting, tracking cloud resources and planning for future network needs.

Agencies envision cloud computing as a way to improve operations, consolidate data centers and accrue savings.  These are significant objectives that should not be undermined because core network services such as DNS, DHCP and IP address management are inadvertently pushed to the back burner. With automated core network services in place, taking weeks to provision IP addresses and DNS will become a thing of the past, and agencies can more fully tap into the cloud’s capabilities.

About the Author

Ralph Havens is president and CEO of Infoblox Federal.

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