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FCW : May 15, 2013
SPONSORED CONTENT While agencies have made some progress in moving to the cloud, many have done so tentatively, focusing on "safe" applications such as email and public-facing websites. But the time to move other applications and infrastructure to the cloud is now. Budget cuts are looming large, and cloud services can save agencies a lot of money. Also, the government faces the threat of cyber attacks every day, and cloud services providers can help agencies protect their data. Cost savings and greater protection of data---just two of the reasons why agencies should be trying to move everything they can to the cloud. The best way to ensure a safe path forward is by working with an experienced provider of cloud-based services---one that understands the unique security, interoperability and portability challenges that government agencies face. Taking advantage of the knowledge and guidance of an experienced cloud services provider doesn't cost an agency anything upfront; initial consultations are free and can deliver a lot of value, including migration, aggregation and consolidation strategies. "The ability for agencies to have these sorts of conversations directly with cloud services providers is one of many reasons why agencies don't need to go through a third-party middleman, or cloud broker, to purchase cloud products," said Diana Gowen, senior vice president and general manager of CenturyLink Public Sector. Vetting cloud services providers At CenturyLink, we recognize that agencies may be concerned about turning their data over to an outside cloud services provider. That's why it's critical to understand the types of questions to ask to fully evaluate potential cloud services providers' experience, reliability and security. First, agencies should ask each prospective cloud services provider for references, and make sure that the provider really understands government requirements. Next, agencies should find out where the cloud storage facility is physically located, since compliance with U.S. government mandates requires not only that data centers be located in the U.S. but also that the data must not leave U.S. borders. Agencies should also ask what type of protections are in place in case of a disaster. For example, a provider with critical infrastructure and carrier-grade network capabilities will be given a higher restoration priority than a provider that doesn't. When a disaster strikes, this will become especially important because with the right cloud services provider, an agency's applications, data and systems will likely be restored more quickly. And this is one of many areas where CenturyLink really shines as a cloud services provider. Finally, agencies should inquire whether the infrastructure that the provider uses is compatible with its existing applications. Without this compatibility, there could be significant migration risks, costs and schedule delays. Evaluating cloud security When it comes to cloud security, several questions are worth exploring. One is the security of the provider's physical environment. For example, are there guards around the storage facility on a 24/7 basis, and what other protections are in place? Also, ask about the virtual environment. Find out how data is protected to prevent data leakage from other customers, and what type of access controls the provider uses. It's also important to find out what levels of FISMA compliance the provider can support. Agencies should ask cloud service providers if they can validate that they meet the standards for delivering and assuring that level of protection. "It's key to choose a cloud services provider that understands how to align the agency's risk management framework with the product set," Gowen said. Gowen also recommends that agencies make sure that all connections to a prospective cloud platform go through a trusted Internet connection. "Unless your agency has its own managed, trusted Internet connection, you have to consider how the traffic flow that will be traversing the Internet to access those cloud connections is secured," she says. "You want a provider that can talk to you about how that cyber infrastructure is protected." For more information about CenturyLink Government s services and offerings, please contact your agency s representative or email us at CTLfederal.email@example.com. For more information on CenturyLink, please go to: CenturyLink.com/gov THINK Cloud Migration: The Time is Now THINK Diana Gowen Sr. Vice President and General Manager, CenturyLink Public Sector
April 30, 2013
May 30, 2013