Article Compliance September 2, 2021

How to Build a Public Sector Cloud Management Strategy

Public sector organizations — including federal, state, and local government agencies as well as certain higher education institutions — were not always known for being at the forefront of technology. But in recent years that’s changed. More of these organizations are moving away from the traditional data center and to the cloud. This move is a shift to an operating expenses (OPEX) model instead of the massive up-front capital expenditures required for running a data center. Other benefits of cloud adoption include greater elasticity, enhanced security features, and the ability for the public sector to modernize IT infrastructure at the same rate as the private sector. 
Once a cloud solution, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, is in place, some stakeholders may believe that the work is done. Yet there’s more for agencies and institutions to do than simply moving on-premises data to the cloud. Organizations in the public sector also need to evaluate how they will manage and protect their cloud environment.
There is no singular approach to cloud management, especially in highly regulated spaces like the public sector. A solid public sector cloud management strategy should include elements such as:

  • Stakeholder buy-in: Gather expert opinions and ensuring collaborative cloud governance across functions
  • Strengthened security and compliance: Make regulatory compliance the mission of the entire organization through continued education and cloud management
  • Meaningful measurements of success: Determine the process and cost improvements stemming from the cloud investment and tie these results back to organizational goals

Here’s how your agency or institution can build a successful public sector cloud management strategy:
 

1. Secure stakeholder buy-in by establishing a cross-function coalition

Sometimes, it helps to have more than one voice in the room.  But in order to communicate the cloud’s importance, you have to know how to speak to people who manage other parts of the organization. For example, your IT department may have project requirements or other needs that stakeholders in finance roles may not understand.
How can you come together to reach common objectives? Consider bringing together a cross-function coalition or taskforce to evaluate the cloud management needs of the organization as a whole. This type of group is commonly referred to as a Cloud Center of Excellence, or CCoE. This team includes not only leaders from technical departments but stakeholders and decision makers from finance, operations, and other departments.
A CCoE can address the complex challenges of the cloud journey and help solve problems related to day-to-day operations. They are also responsible for providing continued education to stakeholders across the organization. Some employees may feel intimidated by new technology and processes, especially if your cloud adoption is recent. Therefore, it’s important to be technological evangelists in your organization. By sharing the benefits of the cloud with everyone, they can understand the value of cloud usage and how it contributes to their success.
The CCoE or similar group needs to share a common language around cloud-related topics. One way to enhance this is to get everyone using the same tools to manage the cloud environment. When bringing the cloud to multiple departments, it may be necessary to consider technology beyond native cloud tools. A cloud management platform, designed to optimize cost, resources, and security in the cloud, brings actionable insights and recommendations that stakeholders from all functions can easily understand and implement. 
 

2. Strengthen your organization’s security and compliance posture

Cloud providers like AWS and Azure operate on the shared responsibility model. While they guarantee the security of the cloud infrastructure, customers must ensure the security and compliance of their own data. 
This part of your cloud management strategy is two-fold. First, focus on building a security-first mindset around everything when it comes to the cloud. Just as individual computers need things like firewalls and antivirus protection, a cloud environment will also require security monitoring. 
Next, don’t forget compliance. With which regulations, standards, and laws does your agency or institution need to comply? Most public sector organizations will have overlapping data security and compliance needs. However, some may have to adhere to specific regulations that demand extra attention. For example, if your organization is a college or university that includes a medical school or teaching hospital, it will be especially vital to take HIPAA compliance into consideration to store patient records and other data.
Your key stakeholders — and members of the organization as a whole — will also need an understanding of what they can do to comply with these regulations. This is an excellent opportunity for your CCoE to educate employees on how they can help you stay secure and compliant through everyday operations.
Cloud management solutions can streamline the compliance process. Look for a platform that combines compliance checks with other features for security and visibility. This ensures that you always have a clear view of your cloud’s security and compliance posture and can stay audit-ready at all times.
 

3. Determine how to measure meaningful success for your organization

Security and compliance aren’t the only results to measure. You might also look at the issues surrounding cost, visibility, and process improvements that result from your cloud management strategy.
Public sector organizations typically differ from enterprise businesses in that they don’t measure success by things like profitability or growth. Instead, they will need different key performance indicators (or KPIs) to evaluate the efficacy of their cloud management and operations. They also need to evaluate how well they can stay on-budget throughout the fiscal year.
Your CCoE (or similar group of stakeholders) should identify what success means for your agency or institution and determine which KPIs you want to measure. Look at factors related to cloud governance, performance, agility, and expenses to show that your organization is getting the most out of its cloud investment.
Want to know where to start measuring for your public sector cloud management strategy? We’ve gathered 50 KPIs for mapping your cloud journey. Of this detailed list, some KPIs you may want to evaluate include:

  • Monthly cloud bills vs. the costs of buying, upgrading, and maintaining on-premises hardware
  • Cloud IT costs as a proportion of all business spending
  • Cloud cost figures
  • Reporting accuracy (with cloud vs. before cloud)
  • Project turnaround times
  • Performance targets for IT infrastructure
  • Employee education and satisfaction with IT services

These KPIs and any other measurements of cloud success should tie back to the goals of the organization. For instance, if saving money is a priority, then you’ll want to look at factors around cost and expense management. If improving efficiency is important, then time spent managing security, cost allocation, and other aspects of your cloud environment will be vital statistics. Tools that help you automate these tasks can prove useful for departments like finance, where extra time spent billing and invoicing to different functions can take employees away from their core responsibilities.
 

Bringing it all together in your public sector cloud management strategy

What can you add to your cloud management strategy that ties all three of these points together? A cloud management platform like CloudCheckr CMx can help.
CloudCheckr CMx is designed for a variety of cloud stakeholders to use. The platform’s cloud cost management solutions, designed with IT finance teams in mind, deliver automated invoicing, billing management, chargebacks, and budget recommendations across complex organizations. The customizable dashboards in the CloudCheckr CMx give you total visibility into your spend, utilization, security, and compliance. These are ideal for sharing with stakeholders across functions. This ensures that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your cloud investment.
In addition to everything in CloudCheckr CMx, CloudCheckr offers solutions designed specifically for the public sector and other highly regulated industries:

  • CloudCheckr CMx Federal is the first and only cloud management software to achieve FedRAMP Ready status. With CloudCheckr CMx Federal, agencies gain total visibility of their resource utilization, security configuration, compliance, and cloud spend all in one application.
  • CloudCheckr CMx High Security includes the power of CloudCheckr CMx deployed in an advanced cloud computing data security configuration for organizations that require regulatory compliance. CloudCheckr CMx High Security is built to the highest levels of security and supports 300 rigorous controls in 17 control families from NIST 800-53. 

 

Learn more about the benefits of public sector cloud management at AWS Summit Washington, DC

Join us September 28 and 29 for the AWS Summit Washington, DC. The event will feature opportunities to learn about emerging trends and topics for AWS users in the public sector. We’ll be on hand at Kiosk K4 for demonstrations, and you can book a 1:1 meeting with us during the event as well.

Get the details about AWS Summit Washington, DC here.

 

(Not going to AWS Summit Washington, DC? You can schedule a virtual demo with CloudCheckr any time.)