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In previous posts, I have written about the inevitability of states migrating to cloud and the importance of thinking through a cloud strategy and operating model. Now that drumbeat is getting louder as some state legislatures consider legal mandates for a “cloud first” approach. Their goal—to drive state governments to decommission costly data centers while improving services to constituents—is worthwhile. Yet CIOs should guard against the proverbial “solution looking for a problem” approach. Instead, focus on the value cloud can deliver—and be mindful of myths and misconceptions as you embark on a cloud migration journey.

Reality Check

Too often, we talk about cloud as something new. Candidly, these technologies have been around for some time, and cloud is simply a delivery platform that can enable more effective, efficient IT service. Getting value from cloud takes much more than flipping a switch. It also demands new ways of managing people, processes and technology.

A core benefit of cloud—namely, shifting technology from capital investments to operating expenses—may sound simple. However, the transition can be complex and daunting without a clear understanding of the journey ahead. Call it a case of everything “old” is “new” again: Approaching a migration to cloud is not unlike any other IT project you undertake. It requires advanced planning, defined metrics, executive oversight and customer buy-in.

In other words, doing your upfront homework remains critical. CIOs who develop a sound business case will have a clear understanding of the investments necessary to manage cloud migration and execution—including reskilling the workforce and implementing operating model changes. It’s also important not to neglect real-world complexities related to billing, capacity, provision, policy and security compliance, among other areas.

Key Considerations

Every state will have unique challenges and requirements. Even so, in framing up a cloud strategy, every CIO would be wise to think through these key considerations:

  • Identify the applications best suited to reap the benefits of migration to the cloud.
  • Modernizing for Cloud. Assess whether applications are cloud ready; if not, re-architect or modernize as required.
  • Determine the complexity and level of effort involved in migrating to the cloud.
  • Resolving Dependencies. Identify and resolve dependencies of other applications, third-party software, hardware, network, integration, etc.
  • Migrate at Scale. Plan the migration to achieve results at scale without disrupting day-to-day operations.
  • Establishing Capabilities. Identify and establish the in-house capabilities required for the desired cloud environment.
  • Ensuring Security. Deploy the services and solutions necessary to accommodate confidential citizen data and manage security risks.
  • Term and Conditions. There’s no standardization of Ts and Cs across the public sector. Doing your homework early and understanding your procurement policies is critical.

The Value of a Strong Start

State CIOs have a pivotal role in driving strategy, operations, service delivery and policy related to cloud migration. I encourage you to proactively move forward with assessing opportunities to migrate to cloud and making decisions based on the value cloud can deliver.

Start strong by building a sound business strategy and then incorporating your strategy into the operating model. In this journey, success will be less about your technical prowess and more about your strategic thinking, operational planning and ability to collaborate across organizational boundaries.

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