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California Models a Fast, Easy Path to the Cloud for Government Agencies

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There’s a faster, simpler way for government IT departments to move workloads to the cloud. The California Department of Technology (CDT) is making this happen with Off-Premise Cloud Services, which contracts with top cloud service providers (CSPs) in a brokerage model that leapfrogs everyday procurement obstacles.
Providers include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. For context on the value of CDT’s cloud brokerage, Government Technology talked to Jason Green, Oracle’s regional manager for the state of California; and Randy Hardee, vice president for solution architecture with Mythics, a leading system integrator for Oracle technologies.

How does the CDT Off-Premise Cloud Services program work?

Hardee: The program is an integrated, competitively bid contract for cloud services that simplifies procurement, onboarding, billing and invoicing. CDT works as an integrator of IT services for the state of California. Other agencies and departments rely on CDT for data center services and other IT programs.
Any state agency can procure cloud services via CDT through a simple request and approval process — rather than each individual department or agency going through a long, drawn-out procurement process, including RFPs, selection, award, negotiations and other typical processes. Mythics owns the contract for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

What’s the business case for joining the CDT program?

Green: It’s much quicker to scale projects because it’s an easy button for procurement. Going through the contract also allows the departments and agencies to leverage already established aggregated spend and pre-negotiated rates.
California has high security requirements associated with off-premises implementation work and cloud services. All these contracts are awarded under the FedRAMP moderate or higher cloud compliance model.

Can you explain more about the role of FedRAMP in the program?

Green: FedRAMP means Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, which standardizes security assessment and authorization for cloud products and services used by U.S. federal agencies. The goal is to make sure federal data is consistently protected at a high level in the cloud.

Hardee: Many states, including California, use FedRAMP as their cloud compliance model, or as the basis for their own state-level security compliance requirements. In addition, all the major CSPs like Oracle use FedRAMP as the basis for their compliance standard and audits.

Can you provide an anecdote that illustrates the appeal of this program?

Green: One California state agency had to quickly “rehome” an Oracle database-based application from a data center that was shutting down. The CDT Oracle Off-Premise Cloud program made it easier for the agency to move to a highly automated Oracle database that required fewer resources and reduced costs. Billing begins after the service is provisioned. It’s only for the services consumed, and it’s billed monthly in arrears.

Hardee: This program eliminated a runway of six months to a year for the agency to create its own Oracle contract and go through the selection, award and negotiation process. It entered the CDT program with a simple request/approval/onboarding process and was migrating into the Oracle Cloud in a couple of weeks.

Cloud economics tend to be complex. It’s easy to overspend unexpectedly. What kinds of controls are built into the CDT program?

Green: Our solution engineers (in conjunction with Mythics) work closely with workload owners to provide accurate estimates for consumption. We can also employ programmatic controls and automation to create alerts and actions to control costs.

What should state leaders think about before they try to start such a program?

Green: Cloud service providers all charge for different metrics in different ways. For example, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure does not charge for network egress. State leaders should examine all CSPs for the highest-performance, lowestcost solutions and employ multi-cloud platform provider solutions where it makes sense to reduce costs.

Hardee: One of the things an agency looks at when choosing a CSP is how its workloads match up to the CSP’s offering. Some workloads perform better in Oracle Cloud and some may be better in Microsoft Azure. Oracle Cloud provides a better solution for Oracle-based technologies. If moving to the cloud is a viable option for an agency, then this program really provides freedom of choice on which cloud service to use.

What are the major hurdles to overcome or pitfalls to avoid?

Green: Many customers choose IaaS-based solutions because they are the closest model to what they are used to. Running a virtual machine in a cloud vs. on-prem is an easy leap. However, for example, running large database shapes in an IaaS environment can lead to extreme consumption costs, and PaaS solutions should be considered when available.

What are factors that are critical to success when participating in the CDT program?

Hardee: The most critical component is how swiftly and painlessly you can get your project started — that is, how you get from just the basic onboarding steps into deploying your cloud services. In reality, when you get onboarded, you’re simply getting a clean slate of a cloud environment that you need to build out before you can really start your migration or implementation tasks.
For example, you need to decide what your identity and role policy structure is going to be, what your virtual cloud network structure is going to be and what security rules/ privileges you need to put in around the infrastructure.
There’s a lot of things that need to be done initially to get your project rolling and that’s where a services provider like Mythics, who’s familiar with Oracle Cloud deployments and projects, comes in.

What are the primary steps in a process to implement a system like this?

1. Understand your current workload characteristics.
2. Select appropriate cloud services to support the workload.
3. Provide cost estimates.
4. Prove out in a systems engineer-led proof of concept.
5. Place service request to CDT to provision services.
6. Migrate workloads.

What’s the onboarding process like?

Hardee: Onboarding is fairly straightforward. If you’re a participating entity (a state agency or other entity eligible for the program), then you notify CDT you intend to become a participant and say which cloud service provider you’ll use. CDT will set you up as a new customer in its cloud management platform to handle the other aspects of the program.
In our case, Oracle customers get to skip the whole procurement and booking process that would normally occur after the purchase order. All we have to do is build a new compartment structure for them, create a compartment administrator and assign that role to the first power user for the new customer environment in their onboarding process. At that point, they can engage Mythics for additional cloud services to help them with their onboarding and migration project. Mythics provides other additional project-level support as part of our cloud services delivery program.

To learn more and access this contract, please visit:
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