While state and local government data management may have depended on servers and other onsite equipment in the past, a number of agencies are now embracing an infrastructure that combines private and public cloud capabilities.
Eighty-nine percent of state governments say a hybrid cloud system is their desired technical operating environment, according to a 2021 NASCIO report. A CompTIA survey found 44 percent of city and county IT executives have moved on-premises infrastructure to private clouds this year; 33 percent have integrated two or more cloud applications via application programming interfaces.
Through the use of tech solutions that offer communal oversight and access to hybrid elements, the structure can offer several key advantages, says Matthew Dietz, global government strategist at Cisco.
“A lot of state and local governments want to continue to house data on-prem but also store a lot of that in the cloud, be it at national or regional data centers,” Dietz says. “Forty percent of on-premises compute and storage is starting to be consumed as a service, which is 10 percent growth over last year. That’s something that is going to continue to increase.”
Simplifying Access and Supervision with Multiple Data Locations
Solutions such as the Cloudera Data Platform, which facilitates data management and analysis across hybrid cloud environments, can potentially enhance agencies’ operational efficiency by providing scalability.
Having a single-pane-of-glass viewpoint can also position agencies to better utilize the large amounts of data that technologies such as artificial intelligence can generate, says Cloudera Government Solutions President Rob Carey.
“Being able to holistically look at, monitor and analyze the data, wherever it may lie, is a huge benefit,” Carey says. “AI and machine learning are powerful tools, but they are fairly complicated. You can’t just jump in and expect instantaneous results. There’s a great deal of thought that goes into building models, running data through the model, getting an expected, repeatable result and then determining how you want to move forward.”
A hybrid cloud architecture may also be able to fuel agencies’ innovation efforts by allowing them to quickly roll out different virtualized environments to test new citizen-facing applications, says Dietz.
“A hybrid cloud approach allows these applications to work across a multitude of unique environments and hardware that come with the state and local space,” he says. “It also brings analytics-driven recommendations and insight into how that application is utilizing storage and the network in real time, and allows you to properly develop very efficient and beneficial products.”
Pairing Cloud Elements for More Precise Data Segmentation
Hybrid cloud environments can involve several specific tech components. Agencies might, for example, use Cisco’s application-centric infrastructure, which is a software-defined networking solution, and Nexus or Catalyst series network switches to access and manage data resources.
When assembling a hybrid system to meet current and future demands, it is crucial for an agency to ensure any involved hardware and software will be interoperable with all pre-existing infrastructure, Dietz says.
“You’re really allowing your organization to mitigate risk and reduce the complexity of your setups instead of rolling out different cloud services as quickly as possible,” he says. “Now you’re able to take a more systematic approach that allows you to make sure you are utilizing everything you are paying for and getting the performance and analytics out of it that you would expect.”
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Retaining Sensitive Data and Challenging Legacy Apps On-Premises
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to provide remote services and work from home capabilities forced many government agencies to rapidly advance their tech use.
To make resources more readily accessible, some employed the public cloud. A number still keep at least a portion of their data and applications on a private cloud or other on-premises infrastructure, either to safely store highly sensitive data or maintain legacy systems that would be challenging to move to a remote environment.
That type of hybrid configuration might also appeal to state and local agencies concerned about the expense associated with cloud storage, which has risen in tandem with its popularity in recent years.
“The pandemic was a wake-up call for a lot of our government employees and customers who realized that they needed to start focusing on more diverse storage setups so they can pivot quickly when different situations arise,” Dietz says. “A hybrid cloud solution can give you the visibility to monitor and maintain storage in the cloud, and then hyperconverge that with on-prem solutions to decide what data actually needs to be put in the cloud and what can stay on-prem. That can reduce operational costs.”
NEXT UP ON STATETECH: 7 tips for cloud migration at state and local agencies.