Feb 13 2019

Cloud Training Best Practices for State and Local Government

The major cloud service providers offer training courses so that users can take advantage of their platforms.

State and local governments are using the cloud to support everything from improved efficiency for unemployment benefits to 311 systems and better collaboration for police departments. Yet without cloud training, government employees cannot take full advantage of the services offered by public cloud providers. 

State and local government agencies have a lot of options in setting up or using cloud training courses, according to IT officials and analysts. The major cloud service providers, including Microsoft’s Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services, offer cloud training in a wide range of courses.

Such training is going to grow in importance in the years ahead as government agencies use more cloud services for computing, networking, storage, application development and more. Gartner expects double-digit growth in government use of public cloud services, with spending forecast to grow 17.1 percent on average per year through 2021. According to the research firm, local governments spend roughly the same amount of their IT budgets on cloud as companies across all industries, at a little more than 20 percent. Separate Gartner research, from its 2018 CIO Agenda Survey, which included responses from 461 government CIOs, revealed cloud services and solutions as the top technology CIOs plan to invest in.

Best practices for setting up cloud training courses vary, says Sid Nag, a research director in the technology and service provider research domain at Gartner. State and local government IT leaders need to think through the impact cloud will have on everything from the organization’s structure to its culture, technology, business continuity, disaster recovery, process automation and governance capabilities. 

“When you move to the cloud, the IT person is no longer delivering the service, unlike the traditional data center. The service provider is providing the service,” he says. “You are playing the role of the intermediary as IT, and serving as the builder, broker, the custodian, the matchmaker.” 


The Benefits of Cloud Training Courses

Every organization within a state or local government “has to adapt and step into the new world of cloud. They need to be trained as well to step up to this new world of cloud. It’s not just IT.”

It is one thing to move to the cloud. It’s another thing to build applications in the cloud or take advantage of Infrastructure as a Service models. 

In North Carolina, the state government has a host provisioning team that agencies can come to with business applications that they need cloud infrastructure for. “That team has to be the first people to be trained, so that they understand moving from data centers to our requirements for options for cloud solutions,” says Tracy Doaks, chief deputy state CIO of North Carolina. The state works with Deloitte for training for that team. 

Additionally, North Carolina has partnered “very heavily” with VMware and some of its partners to implement cloud solutions for the state, Doaks says. “They work side by side doing knowledge transfer with the system administrators and all of those types of folks that are helping to implement the solution,” she adds. 

The training Deloitte provides centers primarily on giving IT team members a new process for providing agencies with cloud options for hosting apps and determining which cloud option is best in terms of functionality, security and pricing. 

Dan Kempton, director of cloud services and engineering in the North Carolina Department of Information Technology, says that the state has been working side by side with VMware to implement tools like its vRealize cloud automation solution and vRealize Orchestrator

Administrators are now “tightly coupled” with the state’s engineering team and getting information as they implement those solutions. Further, VMware has offered training classes for system administrators, with potential options to achieve certifications, Kempton says. The state is also working with online IT training company Pluralsight to provide cloud training courses. 

The state’s system administrators are enthusiastic about the cloud training courses, Kempton says. However, employees who may be less technically savvy or inclined can have a wide range of course options for different cloud providers and at different skill levels. “You’re going to have people who don’t want to get overwhelmed, but they want to know a little bit,” he says. “This, I think, will be a good tool for them.” 

MORE FROM STATETECH: Find out how multicloud management controls give states more visibility. 

Azure Cloud Training

Microsoft provides a wide range of training resources for government users to take advantage of its Azure and Azure Government platforms. 

For example, the company points users to the Azure Government Video Library, which contains helpful training videos to get started on Azure Government.

Microsoft’s Azure Training program offers numerous learning paths, including Azure fundamentals, how to create serverless applications, how to administer containers in Azure, how to architect great solutions and how to deploy a website to Azure with Azure App Service. 

A specific Azure Government training module gives users an understanding of the security and compliance features and benefits of Azure Government, the scope of services offered through the Azure Government marketplace and the knowledge to decide if Azure Government is right for their government agency or partner. 

MORE FROM STATETECH: Discover the benefits and challenges of moving to the public cloud. 

Google Cloud Training

Google offers numerous options for training on its Google Cloud Platform, including on-demand courses from Coursera that allow users to learn online and at their own pace from anywhere. 

The company also offers hands-on labs from Qwiklabs that enable users to practice using its cloud tools in a real environment with live cloud resources. 

Additionally, Google offers classroom instruction in which users can be taught live by authorized Google Cloud instructors and experts.

Like Microsoft, Google offers several learning paths for cloud users, including cloud infrastructure, data and machine learning, application development, and G Suite administration

Google also works with dozens of partners to provide training courses on everything from data analytics to infrastructure, application development, cloud migration and more.

AWS Cloud Training

Amazon Web Services offers free digital training courses on a wide range of topics, including AWS cloud practitioner essentials, the AWS shared responsibility model, authentication and authorization with AWS identity and access management, AWS analytics services and more. 

AWS also provides live or virtual classroom instruction on topics including architecting on AWS, developing on AWS, DevOps engineering, systems operations and more.

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