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Four Ways to Make Your Government Cloud Plan Smarter

Marlin McFate
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It’s no secret that federal agencies are encountering significant challenges in their cloud migrations. Challenges like the proliferation and management of an expanding universe of apps and endpoints are making it difficult for IT teams to identify what workloads are best-suited to move to the cloud. For others, the challenge is converging disparate legacy applications and systems into an agency-wide cloud enterprise without disrupting the user experience for government workers.

That’s why agencies are reevaluating their approaches to cloud deployments in the wake of the updated Cloud Smart Strategy, which provides specific guidance on how to foster greater cloud adoption and seamless implementation. But how can they combine this policy guidance with the right tools and strategies to successfully adopt cloud?

FCW Digital Transformation Workshop

FCW Digital Transformation Workshop

In a recent keynote presentation at the 2019 FCW Digital Transformation Workshop, I talked about how federal agencies can leverage automation and holistic network visibility to better understand the transition to cloud and how it affects application performance throughout all stages.

Migrating to the cloud is much easier when you understand everything that’s in your IT ecosystem, including networks, apps, devices and users. End-User Experience Monitoring (EUEM) is a key Riverbed solution that can help agencies combine top-notch application performance monitoring (APM) with automation and network visibility to not only evaluate what’s in the ecosystem but also how cloud migrations will affect application performance and end users—improving network speed by 41 percent and maximizing employee productivity by an additional 36 percent.

In addition to leveraging solutions like Riverbed EUEM, here are four best practices I have gleaned working with a number of agency partners across federal government. Use these to solidify your agency’s battle plan for moving to the cloud:

  1. Identify the app ecosystem. Before embarking on your agency’s cloud migration, it’s imperative to identify your IT ecosystem at all levels by mapping paths between networks, applications and end-users. Through EUEM, you can rationalize applications (align applications to strategic business incentives) faster, simplifying the process of trying to identify the hundreds, if not thousands, of apps that likely exist in your agency’s IT ecosystem. For one federal customer, our team helped them rationalize their 500 applications in the span of one month, compared to the many months this process can normally take.
  2. Predict app response. How are apps currently performing? What will the performance be after cloud migration? And what applications are more latency-sensitive? You’ll want to identify tier dependency to know which applications you have to move together during cloud migration for minimal disruption to the end-user experience. For example, 22 days after a federal customer completed their transition to cloud, they experienced serious performance issues, where many mission-critical apps were failing. They realized that they hadn’t moved the agency’s audit server. When such critical apps or servers are left behind, it can cause serious problems for your end users.
  3. Determine new network hotspots. Changing an application’s workload can create unintended “network hotspots,” or areas where network capacity is insufficient to support new applications and/or ones that have moved to the cloud. Since networks are traditionally designed where the users and applications are, moving them to the cloud can change the path between the users and applications, which requires a shift in network capacity. Leveraging automation with holistic network visibility through EUEM can help you identify where your current architecture will be inadequate and where network capacity will need to change. For our government customers, such visibility has improved network reliability by up to 68 percent.
  4. Monitor application performance continuously. Tracking application performance is not just vital before and during migrations but must be done long after your apps are in the cloud to mitigate any performance or end user issues. With an EUEM solution, your IT teams can automatically track every enterprise application and how they will perform on any physical, mobile or virtual device, ensuring all members of your workforce can access their mission-critical apps in the way they are most comfortable. Determine the baseline for “normal” performance and measure “click-to-render” time. Then automatically compare app and device performance as well as end-user experience to that baseline and validate any changes.

True digital transformation is comprised of more than just outcomes. Network and app performance are critical pieces to that puzzle too. With Riverbed EUEM and the right battle plan, your agency can make the most of cloud to further your efforts in Digital Transformation and empower your workers to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

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