Government Cloud Adoption
Governments continue to transition vital services and missions to cloud computing, using both public and private clouds, to improve responsiveness, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness across all operations.
In its early stages, government cloud adoption began by building infrastructure and transitioning specific functions from legacy hardware to an optimized cloud architecture. More recently, the focus has shifted to enabling missions and delivering services securely and efficiently in a mature, hybrid cloud environment that complies with all requirements, regulations, and best practices.
These trends are accelerating worldwide, according to a recent survey conducted by Accenture. Among the survey respondents, 72 percent of public agency leaders “expect their need for cloud computing capacity to more than double in the next two to three years.”1
“According to the Accenture study … 72 percent of public service leaders expect their need for cloud computing capacity to more than double in the next two to three years, and 57 percent of public service executives believe that moving to the cloud is business critical.”2
Benefits of Cloud Computing for Government
By adopting use of the cloud, federal, state, and local governments and agencies seek to benefit from five essential aspects of cloud computing. These are “on-demand service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service,"3 according to the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”4
Additionally, as cloud utilization by government has changed over time and the adoption pattern has scaled up, agencies are now reaching beyond basic implementation to focus on “how best to unlock the mission value of cloud,”5 according to an analysis by Deloitte.
Cloud technology is a key to the digital government experience, enabling efficient, effective delivery of services and communications within and among agencies and with the public. For example, cloud enables self-serve websites to deliver services and information on demand, so residents can resolve issues without ever visiting a government office or even waiting on hold in a phone queue.
Compliance and Government Cloud Security
Government cloud computing is increasingly likely to be deployed in a hybrid, multicloud model that embraces the control of a private cloud environment with the flexibility and scalability of multiple public cloud service providers (CSPs). However, this mixed hybrid, multicloud infrastructure raises compliance challenges that must be addressed in cloud design and deployment.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) identifies cybersecurity as a critical challenge in government cloud computing.6 The US established the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) in 2011 to standardize the approach to cloud computing for government and ensure compliance with security and other requirements. However, according to a GAO study, the FedRAMP framework was not always administered or enforced uniformly across agencies.7
Many CSPs provide audit certificates attesting to their infrastructure’s compliance with FedRAMP. However, even when government agencies run workloads on the CSPs’ compliant infrastructure, the workloads themselves must also be certified. Responsibility for workload compliance rests with the agencies.
A complex technology stack supports those workloads, and all aspects of hardware, software, and network must conform to stringent standards. One of the important regulatory criteria is the encryption of data at rest, in transit, and in use.
Highly classified workloads are best secured by hardware-enabled encryption in secure enclaves when the data is in use. For example, when relying only on at-rest and in-transit security, classified workloads can be viewed or downloaded by administrators, even at FedRAMP-certified CSPs.
Encrypted, secure enclaves that are based in silicon enable confidential computing, preventing any such breaches without compromising application performance. Efficient hardware encryption and decryption acceleration is needed to maintain high levels of performance that satisfy applications and users while supporting zero trust security frameworks and other best practices.
Cloud-Driven AI in Government Computing
Artificial intelligence (AI) offers significant opportunities and benefits in the public sector. Recognizing the potential impact of AI, the US established a National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) with a road map for implementation and future growth.
AI can help government agencies to work more efficiently and cost-effectively to achieve mission-critical goals and conduct valuable research. As AI and machine learning (ML) applications are typically compute intensive, it is important to choose cloud instances that can run optimized software on the high-performance hardware that is best suited for AI and ML workloads.
For example, the 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor includes Intel® Advanced Matrix Extensions (Intel® AMX) embedded in silicon to improve performance 2x or more on ML models, compared to the previous generation.
Intel® Portfolio for Cloud Computing
Intel® platforms and technologies can help to optimize cloud value and improve mission efficiency. With a firm, ongoing commitment to compliance and security standards, Intel provides a range of ingredient silicon products for federal, state, and local government cloud computing.
Intel® purpose-built hardware, optimized software integrations, and staff of highly skilled experts have supported government compute infrastructure for decades. The same support and infrastructure that powers on-premises data centers worldwide are also widely available in the cloud, as Intel® technologies underpin most cloud instances, including those hosted by FedRAMP-compliant CSPs.
The latest Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor is a cornerstone of cloud architecture. Many valuable accelerators are built into the silicon, including:
- Intel® QuickAssist Technology (Intel® QAT) to accelerate compression for additional efficiency.
- Intel® In-Memory Analytics Accelerator (Intel® IAA) to provide faster, more-efficient compression and decompression combined with analytic functions.
In addition to the Intel® Xeon® processor, the Intel® Data Center GPU Flex Series adds optimizations for dense media streams and high performance, enabling reliability, availability, and scalability in the data center and in the cloud.
Also, Intel® FPGAs help move, process, and store data fast and efficiently.
Flexibility and Scalability
The hybrid, multicloud trend in government cloud computing requires a level of workload portability between the data center and CSP and among the various CSPs that make up the environment. Intel® technology-based cloud instances enable governments and agencies to take advantage of the consistent infrastructure and hardware-enabled optimizations across all cloud environments and models.
Optimized Software and Workloads
Intel works with a vast partner ecosystem, including independent software vendors (ISVs), to create highly optimized, scalable cloud solutions that form the core of workloads in government cloud migrations. Intel supports optimization, acceleration, and other performance enhancements for mission-critical workloads based on SAP HANA, VMware, open source databases, and many other software solutions.
For example, database applications such as SQL, MySQL, SAP HANA, and MongoDB are optimized for Intel® silicon, as are VMware virtualization platforms and many other critical building blocks for cloud computing.
Additional details about key optimized workloads can be found in these downloadable case studies:
Intel also provides cloud optimization tools to further tune workloads and ensure the best choice of instances for each use case.
The Future of Government Cloud
For all the progress that has been made, the transformation of government cloud computing is still in its early stages, as governments and agencies shed the burden of legacy systems and adopt cloud-first, mission-focused technology strategies.
The key to the future of government cloud computing will be the ability to move with flexibility and agility while maintaining full compliance with security and privacy laws and best practices.
Choosing the right hardware is as critical to success in the government cloud as in the on-premises data center. Intel provides a range of purpose-built technologies and platforms to support the transition to the future of government cloud computing.