Government and educational institutions have a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing the cloud transition. The public sector, meaning government, education, and nonprofits, often have more rigid cloud purchasing processes and requirements than private companies; they also might be unaccustomed to the rapid pace at which it’s possible to get up and running with leading cloud provider Amazon Web Services (AWS).
In many cases, cost, security, and compliance management are even more important for public sector organizations than it is for private companies. It is entirely possible to meet all compliance, governance, and security standards mandated by your institution in the cloud, but the transition does require appropriate cloud management solutions, tools, and expertise.
AWS Cloud Migration Best Practices
There’s no one right way to move to AWS for the public sector. Here are some migration tips to keep in mind:
- It is possible to move everything to the cloud at once. You can also utilize a hybrid architecture that combines on-premise resources with AWS.
- If you need a highly secure environment, you can use AWS’s Virtual Private Cloud to keep your instances isolated from the rest of AWS’ customers.
- If you’re writing an RFP, focus on the outcomes you need, not the specific hardware or software you want to use. This is especially crucial if you’re working on a long timeline because cloud offerings change frequently.
- Consider starting with a limited project scope rather than moving entirely to the cloud. Using AWS for development and testing and/or for backups and disaster recovery are good ways to start.
What to Do Before You Buy Cloud Services
Before deciding on a strategy for buying cloud services, government and education organizations should make sure to do the following:
- Identify and Involve Key Stakeholders: Moving to the cloud isn’t just an IT decision. People from the legal, security, budget, compliance, and procurement departments should be involved in the decisions like how to move to the cloud, which cloud provider to use, and what cloud purchasing strategy to pursue.
- Make a Budget: Cloud computing means you don’t have to manage on-premise hardware, but it isn’t free. Make sure you understand cloud cost management and budget accordingly, including planning for costs associated with making the transition to the cloud. The entire cost structure is different in the cloud, so it’s good to consider Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and to line up the comparison with your old system as close as possible.
- Understand the Compliance and Security Landscape: Public cloud providers can offer highly secure and compliant environments, but security and compliance concerns—and misconceptions—can still be a barrier to cloud adoption for the public sector. Make sure to familiarize all of the stakeholders with the landscape of cloud environments and include security and compliance in all discussions related to the cloud transition.
For more recommendations directly from Amazon about how public sector organizations should handle their transition to the cloud, see this guide.
How to Buy Cloud Services
Once you’ve decided to move forward with the cloud transition, you have two primary options for actually making your cloud purchases and setting up your government and education cloud infrastructure. You can buy directly from AWS (or another cloud provider) or you can utilize cloud management solutions through a contract with a cloud service reseller or Managed Service Provider (MSP).
Buying Cloud Directly
The advantage of buying directly from Amazon is that you can manage everything internally and access AWS’ native compliance frameworks. This is also often the fastest way to get started with the cloud. You’ll be given a standard commercial contract and will be able to manage everything directly.
The biggest downside to this option is that it can be time-consuming, and adoption of cloud can also involve a learning curve for your IT staff. It could end up being more difficult to get what you want if your IT staff has to learn how to set up and manage AWS.
Buying Cloud from a Reseller
AWS also has a network of thousands of resellers worldwide, many of whom specialize in government and education cloud. These MSPs often offer at least some of the following cloud management solutions.
Many MSPs can help you predict the cost of running your applications in AWS in advance. This helps create a budget for both the transition to the cloud and the ongoing costs of running in the cloud. Many MSPs also offer cloud cost management platforms like CloudCheckr that give you tools and analytics to make sure you’re optimizing your cloud spend and not spending too much on cloud resources.
Public Sector Procurement Expertise
MSPs who specialize in working with government agencies have more expertise working with the specifics of public contracts and are often better able to meet specific procurement requirements than if you contract with AWS directly. They can make sure the transition to the cloud happens in a way that meets all of the organization’s existing procurement procedures.
Migration and Deployment Help
If you need more support, working with an AWS partner can help you during the set-up and migration to the cloud environment. This can alleviate some of the learning curve issues for your internal IT team and ensure that everything is set up correctly at the beginning. This often makes the transition to the cloud smoother, since you’re working with a partner who has managed hundreds of similar transitions.
Cost, Security, and Compliance Monitoring
Many MSPs have built-in cost, security, and compliance monitoring capabilities powered by CloudCheckr. CloudCheckr’s cloud management solutions give MSPs better visibility into your cloud-based application and ensure that you are spending money wisely, that your applications are following security best practices, and that you’re maintaining compliance with regulations.
Using an AWS partner for your cloud procurement also makes it easier to use Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs), a type of security product that sits between your on-premise infrastructure, your cloud-based application, and all your users and administrators. CASBs can manage applying security policies, serve as authentication gateways, monitor login attempts, and check for regulatory compliance.
In addition, MSPs can help you set up dynamic automation to help monitor and self-heal your application, so you don’t have to spend time worrying about lapses in security, compliance or performance. Many MSPs, resellers, public sector institutions, and large enterprises, leverage CloudCheckr’s automation capabilities like “Fix Now” and “Always Fix” for misconfigurations and errors.
Take Advantage of Cloud Management Solutions
Whatever strategy you choose for purchasing government or education cloud services from AWS, it’s important to have a way to ensure costs don’t run over budget and that security and compliance are as tight as possible, at all times. Using dynamic AWS cloud monitoring with built-in self-healing capabilities is the only way to make sure that’s possible, even if a security vulnerability appears in the middle of the night. Whether you’re contracting with AWS directly or through a reseller, make sure you take advantage of cloud management solutions to monitor your public sector cloud environment.
Learn how your organization can benefit from cloud management solutions. Try CloudCheckr for 14 days with a free trial.