As government agencies start and continue to migrate to cloud platforms, it is important to adopt multi-cloud environments and back it up with smart use of data, said Department of Agriculture (USDA) Associate CIO Edward Reyelts and Maryland Department of Information Technology (IT) Secretary Michael Leahy.

Reyelts and Leahy talked about leveraging cloud technology at the Granicus National Summit today, and both said that having a combination of cloud capabilities – a multi-cloud platform – enables agencies to flexibly craft an environment that best fits their needs.

“In a multi-cloud environment, you aren’t locked down to any vendor,” Reyelts said, adding that if you use different cloud vendors for security, storage, or other activities, “you can create hybrid solutions.”

USDA runs cloud at the enterprise level, Reyelts said, and on top of the benefits of having a multi-cloud environment, the transition to cloud more generally has led to cost savings as the agency closes legacy data centers and consolidates its IT. He said that USDA has managed to consolidate its data centers down to two.

But as agencies adopt cloud, they need to have the proper data behind it to optimize it, Leahy said. Although Maryland is still working on moving toward a cloud enterprise of its own, Leahy said that he recognizes that “data is the new soil,” that “data, like soil, can be used over and over again,” and that making data useful and reusable will make cloud better for organizations that adopt it.

Planning data use and multi-cloud adoption go hand-in-hand, Reyelts said, since that data strategy needs to align with business goals, and as agency IT teams begin to develop data strategy, they can pursue different cloud solutions accordingly and create an optimum environment.

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Melissa Harris