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Clearing a Path to the Cloud for Government Agencies

The U.S. government is committed to cloud computing and steps are being taken by Congress to make the necessary funding available. But there are practical challenges that remain in creating a clear path to the cloud. Tenable is working to help clear that path.

Cloud computing promises economy, flexibility and scalability. In 2017, the U.S. government plans to accelerate its use of the cloud to take advantage of these benefits.

Agencies must have confidence in the security and reliability of cloud computing, and have a practical acquisition strategy

Despite the benefits of cloud computing, cloud adoption by federal agencies has been slow. To speed things along, Congress is considering legislation that would establish IT modernization funds for agencies. But there are challenges other than money in moving to the cloud. Agencies must also have confidence in the security and reliability of cloud computing, and have a practical acquisition strategy for these services.

Companies such as Tenable are working with government agencies to address these challenges and provide a clear path to the cloud, developing products to help with the accreditation and secure operation of cloud offerings.

It’s more than just money

One of the touted advantages of the cloud is ease of adoption. Offered as a service, cloud computing does not require large capital expenditures. But there still are costs in moving to the cloud. Existing platforms must be operated while new ones are being developed, and legacy systems must remain available until the new platform is proven. The Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT Act) would create pools of money for agencies that could be used for cloud adoption. Money would be paid back to these revolving funds from savings realized from the cloud and by retiring legacy systems that now consume more than 70 percent of the federal IT budget.

Even with money in hand, agencies will be cautious about moving IT resources. They must gain confidence in the cloud’s ability to support mission-critical operations and protect sensitive information.

Achieving the necessary confidence and level of comfort is not a simple matter. Each agency has a different mission and different needs. Within each agency, there are a variety of operations and data with differing levels of sensitivity, requiring different levels of security. Moving everything at once is impractical and unnecessary. Each agency will make its own decisions about what to move first; which assets to trust to the cloud, and which will remain on-prem.

Accrediting and acquiring cloud services remains a long and arduous process

Acquisition is a separate issue. Despite programs intended to ease the pain, accrediting and acquiring cloud services and assuring their continued security remains a long and arduous process.

A hybrid solution

A hybrid cloud environment can help in establishing the necessary level of comfort with cloud computing. This allows an agency to move public-facing and other non-critical operations and data to a service provider’s cloud, while retaining mission-critical data in-house. Interconnecting the platforms enables operations as a single enterprise. Assets can be moved in and out of the cloud as the level of comfort and circumstances dictate.

Achieving the necessary confidence and level of comfort is not a simple matter ... A hybrid cloud environment can help

Building confidence in the cloud and enabling rational acquisition of services requires visibility and continuous monitoring of activity on networks and systems. Agencies can be sure of the security of assets in the cloud, and service offerings can be more efficiently assessed and accredited.

Industry assistance

Tenable understands the challenges of cloud adoption and is addressing these concerns to facilitate the transition to cloud computing. Enabling agencies to continuously monitor, analyze and manage vulnerabilities in this environment; providing hybrid environments for both cloud-based and on-prem security solutions; and customizing security controls for each agency helps to create a clear path to the cloud for agencies.

To learn more about Tenable cloud solutions, contact federal@tenable.com.