Is Virginia’s DNS ready for a move to the cloud?

The State of Virginia is the latest in a string of government entities which have recently decided on a wholescale, enterprise-wide move to the cloud. …

The State of Virginia is the latest in a string of government entities which have recently decided on a wholescale, enterprise-wide move to the cloud. 

In September, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed an Executive Order laying the groundwork for a statewide move to the cloud.  By December 1, the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA) must provide an assessment of the cloud readiness of every state government department, and by mid-January VITA will present a cloud adoption plan to the Governor’s office.

Several states are already moving in this direction, and the US Department of Defense is pursuing a similar initiative through its JEDI program.  Cost, efficiency, and a desire to reap the benefits of innovations happening in the cloud are all prime factors behind this growing trend.

Laying the groundwork for a successful cloud migration 

There’s a huge difference between starting a cloud program and actually implementing it.  As VITA assesses the cloud readiness of state departments, it’s bound to find what BlueCat has discovered in its own customer base:

  • Ad hoc, decentralized core network controls: Over time, the gradual accretion of users and functionality leaves network administrators presiding over a mess of customized, Rube Goldberg-style network infrastructure.  These network infrastructures aren’t set up to support the higher-level functions of the cloud – automation in particular.
  • Divided network responsibilities: Security is an essential part of any cloud strategy, and ideally it should be “baked in” from the start.  Unfortunately, miscommunication (or complete lack of communication) between the network and security teams often leads to missed opportunities to secure cloud migrations.
  • Lack of focus: Many of our customers go into a cloud migration uncertain about what they’re going to actually use the cloud for.  Most of them end up unprepared when the use case for advanced functionality arrives.  Taking advantage of the cloud for automation and DevOps requires a network infrastructure that can deliver the back-end services which integrate with cloud operations.

DNS isn’t the first thing that organizations think about when they’re migrating to the cloud, but at BlueCat we know that it’s an essential part of any migration strategy.  Without a centralized, automated DNS infrastructure on the back end, many of the advantages inherent in the cloud are difficult to fully realize.

An automation example

Take automation for example.  If your DevOps team is developing an automation application, it will probably need to stand up and tear down IP space on a frequent basis.  If you have a decentralized, manual DNS management system, the DevOps team is going to have to submit a ticket, wait for a human to process the request, and then make sure that the task was performed correctly before proceeding.  That usually takes weeks.

Contrast this with a centralized, automated DNS infrastructure powered by BlueCat’s Adaptive DNS solutions.  With a self-service provisioning feature, DevOps teams and the applications they run can provision (and tear down) IP space in seconds, all without the need for human intervention.  That makes the DevOps team and their applications far more efficient, and realizes the true value of the cloud.

Getting started

As VITA and its customers within the State of Virginia prepare to make this momentous move into cloud, they would do well to focus on the context of that move.  Simply adding a cloud capability and calling it a day isn’t enough – the network infrastructure has to be formed around the cloud’s operational and technical requirements.

Our partners in the cloud service providers tell us that it takes an average of eighteen months for most government agencies to move to the cloud.  One of the key hang-ups is the network infrastructure piece – most government entities don’t realize the critical role of DNS and other contextual technologies until it’s too late.  It’s far easier to make these changes before a cloud migration takes place than during or after it occurs. 

Are you a Virginia state agency getting ready to move to the cloud?  VITA already uses BlueCat to centrally manage its core DNS infrastructure and automate standard tasks.  It makes sense to start talking about the extension of these capabilities now, before the demands of the cloud begin to take shape.  We’d be happy to discuss the cloud aspect of DNS and offer some advice on best practices we’ve learned in the government sector and beyond.  Contact us to learn more.

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