Federal agencies that want to move to the cloud should plan their migration carefully, said Maria Roat, chief technology officer at the Department of Transportation.

“There’s a lot of moving parts and pieces (when it comes) to moving to the cloud,” Roat said on a MeriTalk webinar, “How Much Does the Federal Cloud Cost?”

To help agencies plan their cloud migration and understand the costs associated with that transition, Roat suggested they begin with a discussion about:

Exactly what they want out of the cloud. Moving to the cloud because legacy IT systems are old is one reason to embrace cloud computing, but there needs to be a broader case for your transition to the cloud. “‘I just want to move to the cloud because my stuff is old,’ well, that’s not always the right answer, shall we say,” said Roat, the former director of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).

Your architecture, your needs, and which ‘as-a-Service’ fits those needs best because it’s more than ‘lifting and shifting.’ Moving to the cloud requires a deep dive. “You’ve got to think through the architecture and what you want to do,” Roat said. “What are your memory requirements? How many processors are you going to need? All of those kinds of things, and not just for today, but for the longer term, depending on what the business office wants to do.”

The financial implications involved with a cloud migration – not just the direct costs. “It’s not just the hardware,” she said. Set-up costs and professional services also will contribute to an agency’s initial cloud investment

Agency-wide implications, so it’s important to have all parties at the table – from IT to procurement – involved in cloud purchasing discussions so people throughout the agency are engaged in discussions. “I find that I’m working with more the procurement, acquisition type people to say ‘okay, here’s our options. Here’s what’s in the realm of possible. Here’s how we got to the pricing,’” Roat said. “So not only is a lot of the work I’m doing with the program offices, but it’s also on the procurement and acquisition side because not everybody understands all the pieces.”

Understand what Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) and Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) are available and make sure procurement people understand those options, too

“It’s about understanding. It’s about bringing the various communities together. I think it might be true to say that it takes a village to buy the cloud in some circumstances,” said Steve O’Keeffe, founder of MeriTalk.

To help agencies better understand the pricing component of Federal cloud, the webinar also provided a demonstration of the Gov Cloud Shopper, a free service that provides estimates of FedRAMP-compliant cloud services.

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