Unleashing the Potential of Cloud

Unleashing the Potential of Cloud

Maria Roat, Chief Information Officer, U.S. Small Business Administration

What according to you are some of the upcoming trends in the Cloud landscape?

IT architects have redefined the definition of cloud computing, which is helping the technology grow and add weight to the statement. Initially, security concerns were the primary factor for the reluctance in the technology’s adoption; neither did people find cloud technology reliable nor the cloud providers trustable; however, the security assumption revolving around the cloud landscape has changed over time. The pace of adoption for cloud-based systems has accelerated, and from that, we can infer that the technology has improved compared to what it was a few years ago. Also, the government has turned the corners on adopting cloud technology, and I think people have begun to understand that the cloud is more secure in some regards than what some people have in their existing data center environment.

What are the pain points and challenges that need to be addressed adequately with a cloud solution?

The continued drive to cloud adoption rises as companies realize that the technology would help them capitalize on upcoming market trends and evidence-based decision-making processes. It has quickly become a problem-solver in the business world. Adopting cloud technology can help agencies with the optimization of a significant number of data sets and data warehouses to scale rapidly in the market place. Cloud technology is a massive cost-driver as it allows one to spend according to their needs in terms of scalability.

What kind of approach should the organizations adapt to identify the right partnerships in the marketplace?

As a CIO, I identify the business requirements and analyze how cloud technology will cater to those requirements. After conducting extensive research, I look at cloud providers and their SaaS offering that would support the business needs. Well, for SaaS solution, the cost is also a significant driver as different cloud-service providers have varied pricing models. Another concern is the flexibility of licensing; it is essential to ensure if one is paying annual license cost or if they can pay quarterly. Hence, not only scalability from a technology perspective but one must ensure that other business requirements, such as licensing and security, are also met.

"I think people have begun to understand that cloud technology is more secure in some regards than what some people have in their existing data center environment"

Are there any noteworthy projects or initiatives that you have undertaken in the recent past?

We are actively taking advantage of the cloud and have several applications that we have lined up to integrate into the cloud environment. This is because we deal with the public, and we have over 30 million small businesses and entrepreneurs in our clientele, and the solution that we are deploying in the cloud is taking advantage of the ability to reach out to those customers. We are moving to Login.gov, a single sign-on solution for US government websites that enable users to log in to services from numerous government agencies using the same username and password. So, small business owners only need one login, and they don’t have to keep track of 10 or 12 websites. We are moving to the cloud to enable scalability and are reaching out to our entrepreneurs concerning enterprise learning initiative, a certification that we can scale and even to support the small and medium-sized business owners.

What kind of future do you envision when it comes to the next 12 to 18 months? Are there any potential disruptions that you can see?

Disruptions and transformation are essential catalysts for digital business, and therefore, trending technologies like AI, RPA, and the internet expanse will continue to drive technological revolutions. One more important concept is IoT; all the devices are connected and can transfer data over a network without requiring human intervention, thereby enhancing the communication process. So, now, you have sensors everywhere, which generate a vast amount of data. But, then how will you store and manage that data? Here, the cloud gives you that ability to maintain and carry out analysis using cloud computing. Also, the use of AI is another added advantage as it enhances security, which is mostly driven by the cloud and has also given cloud computing an upper hand in finding and eliminating vulnerabilities.

Do you have a piece of advice for all those aspiring professionals in your field?

Although cloud integration enables you to adopt all the advanced and upcoming trends, you must ensure that your internet services don’t suffer from frequent outages or slow speeds. Integrating cloud technology demands you to take a look at your internal infrastructure first as it includes considering your SD-WAN, what your touch points are because your traffic is changing across your enterprise depending on the use-cases of your clients, and also with emergence of multiple locations one has to figure out how they will connect to the cloud. However, with the cloud-side improving security and simultaneously lowering the operational cost of cloud computing, it’s a win-win for the enterprises that have investments in this trending technology.


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