Developing an Acquisition Manager’s Guide to Cloud Integration

The Challenge

Noblis ESI’s largest Government client operates one of the most complex legacy processing frameworks in the Government. They found themselves in the middle of two Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE) service providers – the IC Commercial Cloud Services (C2S) and IC GovCloud – with a mandate to migrate services to each. Transition is complicated by major changes in security requirements, the necessity to maintain cost efficiency, and a starting point involving complex legacy interfaces. As one astute Government leader noted, each project that has had to successfully transition to the cloud did so exactly once – and hence the practical knowledge and lessons learned during transition are difficult to transition between disparate projects.

Integration of projects, programs, and services into the cloud, whether it be IC ITE for IC agencies, Joint Intelligence Environment (JIE) in the Department of Defense (DoD), or agency-specific or commercial cloud offerings across and the federal sector, presents unique challenges, opportunities and options depending on the type of project, the stage of project development or life cycle, and the target cloud environment(s). With the rapid pace of technology advancement and the top-down direction to implement such solutions, government clients often find themselves lacking the subject matter expertise to adequately address the myriad of concerns associated with such transitions and ill-equipped to investigate and select optimal hosting solutions and practical methods to implement them.

The Vision

This challenge was tackled by leveraging the Noblis Sponsored Research (NSR) program to create an Acquisition Manager’s Guide to Cloud Integration, which focuses primarily on our Government clients’ efforts to transition to cloud hosting. Through an examination of the full range of cloud integration challenges, the guide describes common processes, best practices, expert implementation options, detailed technology explanations, and technical viability analyses that support each unique project transition.

The Noblis Qualifier

As a wholly owned subsidiary of Noblis, Noblis ESI leverages the Noblis Sponsored Research (NSR) program to better serve clients. The research, development, and deployment of the Acquisition Manager’s Guide to Cloud Integration is an example of Noblis ESI’s unwavering commitment to advancing our client’s missions through NSRs.

The Solution

Acquisition Management offices leading cloud integration efforts need more than straightforward cloud costing tools to be successful. The Noblis ESI team recognized this, and first researched the broad range of options available to the Acquisition Manager when presented with a cloud mandate, laying out straightforward explanations of the various technology options. Second, we examined the policies, processes, and procedures associated with a given project’s transition to a cloud host. Third, we searched across the IC, DoD and Noblis examples to determine best practices and expert implementation options, interviewing key leaders in each community to capture both their tradecraft and the motivation behind key decisions and technical viability analyses that needed to be tailored to each program or project. We then assembled our findings in a format to allow both quick-reference and detailed study – in order to be usable for both the new PM and the veteran Government leader.

The key accomplishment for this project was the delivery of an effective, 60-page guide that can be used by Noblis ESI clients to facilitate quickening the pace of cloud integration. Research was conducted using sampled customer surveys and a cross-agency outreach effort to determine the range of requirements for both hosting and implementation options available across the enterprise.

The analysis of collected data provided a factual basis that was then used to develop and summarize effective techniques for integration given the unique program requirements. Analyses of implementation methods investigated such options as bare metal hosting, basic host service integration, container technologies such as Docker, virtual machines and machine images, virtual private clouds, and full migration to cloud-only services. Advantages and disadvantages of each method and specific examples were then provided in the guide to help Acquisition Managers navigate through the “unknown unknowns” associated with this major modernization effort.

The Future

The advancements that can be credited to this project are:

  • Fills client gaps in defining Cloud Integration alternatives
  • Provides single source centralized document for client processes related to cloud integration
  • Reflects first end-to-end body of knowledge on Clients cloud integration activity.
  • Brought all information the PM’s need into one document.