As Federal agencies are looking to modernize IT infrastructure and increasingly migrate to cloud environments, their respective stages of implementation are running the spectrum from just beginning the journey to having highly developed processes, a General Services Administration (GSA) official said at a FedInsider digital training event Jan. 13.

Adam Grandt, managing director at GSA’s Cloud Adoption and Infrastructure Optimization Center of Excellence (CoE), said that cultural change issues of cloud adoption are a typically more challenging aspect of cloud adoption, compared to the actual technology shift.

“On one hand, we’ve worked with organizations trying to move away from mainframes and understand not even so much cloud adoption as much as adoption of modern infrastructure with innovation habits, before you even start touching automation or cloud adoption. Or usually, what actually happens is, you would usually have silos of cloud adoption happening around the agency with very, very old technologies supporting at the same time,” Grandt said.

“On the other hand, we work with the Joint AI Center (JAIC) of the [Defense Department] working on making AI available with service and policy in the DoD space,” Grandt continued. “Honestly, the range that I’ve gotten to see over the last two years is mind-boggling.”

Grandt said GSA typically finds a small project within an agency to start with cloud adoption, and then builds out from there. He defined that starting project as a “pivot point” to help with modernization efforts for the entire agency.

The process then works in three parts: developing modern IT habits, turning the focus to security, and, finally, working on acquisition. Grandt said the goal of these efforts is to “utilize technology to make the life of the acquisition team better and then utilize the new capabilities and the new available high-quality time of your position team to make access to technology easier.”

Grandt noted that all three tenets come straight from the Cloud Smart Federal mandate from the Office of Management and Budget, an update to its predecessor Cloud First policy.

“Cloud First was about gaining access, Cloud Smart is about implementing lasting change,” Grandt said. “The Federal government together with the rest of the industry is going through a period of change. And the evolution of infrastructure across different agencies is currently happening relatively slowly compared to the commercial side. Again, security takes time,” he said.

“I think [that’s] what’s happening over time, as CIOs in Federal agencies are discovering the effectiveness of federating cloud services,” he said.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.