Education Department reducing cloud skills needed through consolidation

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The Department of Education is limiting the skillsets required to manage its multi-cloud environment through application rationalization and cloud consolidation and optimization, said its CIO handling the initiatives.

Agencies have had a “relatively easy” time acquiring cloud services externally during the coronavirus pandemic, but the challenge has been ensuring staff have the skills necessary to operate them, said Jason Gray.

Cloud consolidation not only reduces the department’s information technology footprint and administrative overhead but requires fewer employees certified in one cloud platform or another, he said.

“For a future state of where we’re going, I would love for it to be simpler because otherwise you’re having to make sure that people get trained on this skillset and on that skillset,” Gray said during the SNG Live: Cloud Smart event Wednesday.

The pandemic has seen vendors, taking advantage of the shift to telework, offer agencies an increased variety of security and identity and access management solutions — provided they have the proper cloud platform, said Henry Sowell, CIO of Cloudera.

A multi-cloud environment gives agencies greater flexibility on that front but requires a data strategy for instilling the requisite skills, hiring the right people, building the workforce, and operating the environment, itself, Sowell said.

The Education Department‘s cloud strategy is particularly important as the agency moves to a cloud-agnostic future because it ensures data is stored where it makes the most sense, Gray said.

When the department transitioned from a 12-year-old cloud services contract to a new one last year, it still took months to get data from one environment to the other in some cases, he said.

Still, the multi-cloud environment made the pandemic move to telework “natural,” Gray said, and users didn’t have their access affected during the department’s recent technology refresh.

“We literally a few weeks ago did a tech refresh with one of our core providers with over 700 systems — improving memory, processing power, cybersecurity — that was done over a weekend,” Gray said. “And I’ll tell you in a traditional environment there’s no way that could have happened over a weekend.”

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Cloudera, coronavirus, Department of Education, Jason Gray, multi-cloud
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