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The Defense Department has been making waves in the information technology industry with its single-award contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud Program (JEDI). After getting their first look at the contract during an industry day, vendors began expressing their concerns about the wisdom of locking into a ten-year contract with a single vendor and a single, restrictive cloud environment. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has since clarified that this contract will be only a fraction of DoD’s cloud requirements, but the initial response is telling. The consensus is clear: a single cloud environment is not the way to go.
Red Hat CEO James Whitehurst has said “cloud has the potential to be the mother of all lock-in.” With a single cloud vendor and environment, non-standardized capabilities and infrastructure can’t be moved in the event an agency wants to do so. Those applications would have to be rebuilt in another cloud service first, before agency applications could be moved.
Federal agencies should look to open, hybrid cloud solutions to satisfy their requirements in order to avoid this. Because the move to cloud is a foregone conclusion; a matter of when, not if. Most agencies are already exploring — if not implementing — automation, self-service and virtualization solutions for their data centers. They’re moving workloads to the cloud to ease the burden on over-stretched IT departments. And with a little foresight, they can improve their agility and flexibility while doing so.
Hybrid cloud provides a mix of private, commercial and on-premises platforms, and the means to bridge the three and avoid silos. It can involve multiple public cloud providers and services, as well as private platforms. This dynamic can provide organizations with significant data security concerns, like DoD or the intelligence community, with the means to ensure those requirements are fulfilled. But it also provides the flexibility and agility to deliver services effectively, be they cloud-based applications or more traditional.
Red Hat has the solutions to help federal agencies achieve their desired outcomes with hybrid cloud architecture. Its Cloud Suite offers tools to build a private cloud, access public cloud, build apps and integrate software, and administer the entire architecture with its unified management framework.
“Cloud should be treated like a utility,” says Adam Clater, chief architect for North America public sector at Red Hat. “The last time you bought a television,” he said, “were you thinking about where your electricity was going to come from?”
It can be difficult for legacy organizations to migrate their technology to external providers. But automation, self-service and virtualization can help. Implementing these cloud-like practices ahead of time can help agencies develop a better picture of their resource allocation and how to optimize it, and will inform just what kind of hybrid cloud architecture will best serve the agency and satisfy its requirements.
The true value of cloud is the ability to allocate resources depending on the demands of workloads that increase or decrease based on service requests. When coupled with automation, this approach allows agencies to make decisions about which cloud they want to be in based on their requirements and desired outcomes, not vendor restrictions. It also provides cost savings because agencies aren’t locked into a single cloud that may not be the ideal environment.
Red Hat’s Ansible can help agencies automate, improving provisioning processes and migrating applications, offering optimization and reducing complexities.
“If you automate your way into the cloud, you can automate your way across to another cloud and start making spot market decisions about what cloud you want to be in based on what you’re trying to do,” says Adam Clater, chief architect for North America public sector at Red Hat.
Meanwhile, Red Hat’s CloudForms provides a management platform that gives IT departments the ability to delegate self-service abilities through a service catalog and ensure compliance across various platforms.
Hybrid clouds also allow agencies to leverage existing virtualized infrastructure with minimal disruption. As container platforms continue to be an effective way to simplify and automate app/service development, delivery, and operations, hybrid cloud management capabilities can help bridge virtualized infrastructure with application platforms.
And with an organization like DoD, these solutions have to perform in the field, where users have to contend with lack of bandwidth and communications denial tactics. Increasingly, battlefields require their own specific internets. This means the department has to provide as much data and IT resources as close as possible to the end-user. While commercial cloud most effectively minimizes data centers, hybrid cloud options pairs that with the secure environments needed in such a situation.
Adopting an open hybrid cloud solution is as simple as contacting a partner like Red Hat to learn how its use can enable government agency IT departments to meet increasing IT workloads.