The US Department of Labor's (DoL) IT chief has provided an insight into the problems that can occur when moving to the cloud, ranging from out-of-date desktop PCs and apps to insufficient bandwidth.
Dawn Leaf, chief information officer at the DoL, said at Cloud Expo 2015 that the agency set about moving 19,000 workers across 500 locations to cloud-based systems as part of an effort to create more standardised IT use.
However, it soon became clear that the 28 DoL agencies lacked the infrastructure required to support a major cloud migration.
“When we did our preparation work to move to the cloud, we found over 150 inconsistencies in our networks that we had to address before we could even modify our firewalls and connect overall as a department," she said.
“Most of our applications, the legacy ones, weren’t ready for the cloud. We were some what fragmented. We had about nine different infrastructures that were not standardised."
Another problem was that the DoL's network bandwidth was far too slow to support the use of cloud applications. Nine networks needed upgrading across the department.
“We had to quadruple our bandwidth to get to cloud services because we were doing more than just email. We were introducing collaboration at the desktop which we didn’t have previously,” Leaf said.
She also noted that various agencies were using outdated systems that needed to be overhauled before the DoL could progress with widespread cloud migration. “We still had 10,000 people on Windows XP,” she said.
The DoL worked through these challenges to create an “integrated digital government platform” and offer a suite of services that agencies can run on existing on-premise infrastructure or external cloud services.
Analysis by the DoL showed that using a platform model reduced the cost of setting up IT systems by 50 percent for individual agencies.
The UK government is adopting a similar approach with the government-as-a-platform goal, in which cloud will play a central part in creating standardised systems across the public sector.
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