This blog post is a part of our security series for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month where we discuss how federal CIOs can best prepare for a cloud environment that works securely with your on-premises datacenters.
The need for federal agencies to get their hybrid cloud roadmaps in place has reached a tipping point over the past year, especially as pressures mount to modernize the government’s vast portfolio of aging legacy IT systems and make smarter use of available IT funding.
Agency IT leaders however, face a deeper challenge. Deciding which applications to move to the cloud and which should be rebuilt or replaced to function securely in a hybrid environment. They must do so while planning for a rapidly-changing cybersecurity landscape.
That’s why rationalizing and rightsizing your applications deserves careful attention. This is also why aligning with the right partners who can support your applications, whether in the cloud or on-premises, can be the difference between successful IT modernization versus just lifting-and-shifting to the cloud.
That’s one reason a growing number of agencies are choosing the flexibility and built-in security features of cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure Government. Azure Government gives leaders a flexible way to test out their theories, lower costs quickly, and accelerate their modernization with confidence.
Microsoft’s own experience moving to the cloud, as well as working extensively with government agencies, offers several useful lessons to CIOs and IT leaders for developing a successful roadmap to a multi-cloud and hybrid IT world.
Based on this experience, here are five recommendations for a successful roadmap:
- Rationalize apps: Agencies must rationalize their applications to ensure they are making the most efficient decisions. The inventory of apps in this rationalization is a six to nine-month process to help agencies achieve their missions with security and cost-savings as a top priority. The returns will be significant if you start now with those that must be kept on-premises and those that can move to the cloud.
- Build a solid foundation: The inevitable transition to multiple IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS cloud platforms and the rapidly-changing cybersecurity landscape, make it critical for agencies to plan for a secure hybrid and multi-cloud operating environment. Just moving some IT operations or applications into the cloud can create parallel universes. Fortunately, Azure provides a foundational layer for agencies to build virtual environments that work across datacenters and cloud.
- Use built-in services: Agencies need to know they have the correct tools to go from on-premises to a hybrid cloud environment. Microsoft Azure provides a secure foundation to host your applications and infrastructure, with built-in security services to help protect data and workloads faster.
- Establish an identity layer: The digital estate with unified ID layer provides a stable solution across cloud and on-premises environments, so CIOs can combat cyberthreats and optimize productivity. That layer needs to work fluidly across environments and device type. For example, you can manage user identities and access policies with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). It’s built to work for apps in the cloud, on mobile, or on-premises, and you can layer security features such as conditional access to help protect users and your organization.
- Adopt an assume-breach strategy: It’s more important than ever to take a holistic end-to-end approach to security, and have visibility of who’s operating across multiple clouds and applications. This includes security across endpoints, identities, networks, applications, and data. To get a unified view of security across all your on-premises and cloud workloads, you can use Azure Security Center which enables your team to quickly find and remediate vulnerabilities, while also limiting your exposure to threats. Your agency can also leverage the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph to keep pace with evolving cyberattacks.
With these lessons in mind, you can begin rationalizing your apps and developing the right security policies and processes for your transition to a hybrid-cloud future. To learn more about building a secure hybrid cloud roadmap for your agency, reach out to your Microsoft representative.