Original post on Cloud Computing Magazine
According to a Government Technology report, the cloud now represents about one-sixth of all gov tech funding opportunities. In the state and local gov industry, about one-sixth of funding opportunities are for cloud computing services.
In 2018, RFPs for cloud computing services made up about 18.5 percent of all gov tech funding opportunities, according to an analysis of more than 400,000 requests for proposals collected by the Government Technology Industry Navigator.
Even before the pandemic, which forced millions of government employees and contractors to work from home, the federal government was investing in cloud.gov as a “platform as a service” aimed at federal, state, and local governments to make compliance easier.
Amazon’s AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft’s Azure continue to add cloud computing services specifically tailored to government users, and recently, Azure upped the ante by adding cloud communications to its offering for government customers by rolling out – beyond Office 365 – new Teams offerings in compliance with increasingly strict government regulations.
Will the world of work be completely run on the cloud, including all voice, video, and collaboration platforms in the future, including for federal, state, local, and tribal agencies?
“This move to an all-cloud world seems inevitable, but at the same time, analog devices are still with us and will remain that way in many industries, including government and military, for many years to come,” said Jeff Li, Senior Director, Partner Service Assurance at ConnX and an expert in Microsoft, Teams, and Direct Routing as a Service (DRaaS). “The key is to start planning, including in mission-critical government voice, data, and video communications, with an intelligent migration to not just cloud computing, but cloud real-time comms.”
Li noted that the move to cloud for voice for government agencies presents challenges in the immediate term, given the end of life programs to stop supporting analog telephone networks and devices by the largest telcos in the U.S., including AT&T and Verizon.
“There’s no need to worry about the seamless orchestration of digital and analog devices when organizations digitally transform their communications and computing environments, enabling those customers to bring new life to their investments in faxes, alarm systems, desktop phones, and even PBX equipment with our POTS-D offering,” Li explained. “It is so important to look at transformation as calculus, not math, as the dynamics, from cloud technology to cloud business models, to new regulatory requirements makes this a journey, not a destination.”
This not only extends the value of their IT investments, but also optimizes applications like Microsoft Teams, which only truly works when users can access it with analog devices.
“To meet the unique and evolving requirements of Federal, State, Local, and Tribal governments, as well as contractors holding or processing data on behalf of the U.S. Government, Microsoft offers the Office 365 Government GCC environment,” Microsoft explains. “Available through multiple channels including Volume Licensing, interested organizations go through a validation process to ensure eligibility before an environment is established.”
For government contractors, the GCCH (GCC High) offering:
- Provides the foundation for cybersecurity and compliance.
- Impacts whether an organization qualifies to work on future contracts, including contract modifications and extensions.
- Directly impacts whether Prime contractors, partners, and customers can work with that organization.
- Directly impacts how cybersecurity and compliance are evaluated when awarding contracts.
“Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to making solid and sustainable choices about GCCH solutions,” Li noted. “Working with the government can be notoriously complicated and risky, but working with experts who make the procurement and ongoing management and maintenance GCCH compliant teams reduces friction and risk.”
For a government contracting officer to buy anything, they must follow the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) with requirements to put out a call for bids to ensure that they are getting the best bang for taxpayer dollars. While everyone is for fiscal responsibility, this process can be incredibly time-consuming.
“Make no mistake, the transformation to cloud today is fully underway, said Li. “But, Federal, State, Local, and Tribal agencies in the U.S. have been slower to move to cloud compared to to the cloud revolution for other organizations, from SMBs to large global enterprises.