CDM: Cloud Hardening and Zero Trust Environments

By Amanda Mull, Contract Specialist

Critical cybersecurity goals for most federal agencies are focused on Zero Trust for a more mobile workforce, cloud-based products, and active threat detection plus dynamic response. Purchase of tools alone, however, cannot provide successful operational cybersecurity. Ongoing budgeting must address a holistic approach, including flexible policies and procedures, to adjust to new threats and changing work landscapes – along with a critical investment in cyber workforce training.

It is becoming more important for federal agencies to partner with companies that can help achieve their foundational cybersecurity goals. Partners and agencies alike must be committed to constant review and adjustment to systems and operations, to ensure that they maintain the highest levels of cybersecurity.

CDM program funds directly support agencies striving to harden their cloud cybersecurity against threats. The program becomes even more important as new threats emerge and agencies are forced to scramble to protect themselves and the public trust. 

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SLED 101 Series – Technology Solves Problems

By Rachel Eckert, SLED market intelligence manager

In our last installment we walked through the IT budget process to help you focus your sales efforts more strategically and develop more targeted account lists.

This, our fourth installment, will dive into what technologies states and localities will be buying with their IT budgets and how vitally important the role of citizen is to driving adoption.

Despite some uncertainty in IT spending, state, local and education organizations are still looking for technology solutions. The ongoing pandemic caused major shifts, not only to working environments, but in how SLED organizations provided citizen services. With an inability to provide in-person services, SLED organizations needed to rapidly deploy digital and online services, forcing many states to re-evaluate their IT suites.

Cybersecurity is a constant

Even during a time rapid changes, there is still one constant when it comes to states, counties and cities — cybersecurity. With the rise in ransomware attacks over the last several years, several states have made the shift to a “whole-of-state” approach, which I wrote about in a recent blog. This means the state and all of the jurisdictions in the state work together to develop a plan for a coordinated response during an incident.

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Top Four 2021 State CIO Priorities

By Charles Castelly, SLED Analyst

The release of the Top Ten Priorities for State CIOs in 2021 in December by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), places digital government at the top of the list for the second year in a row. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of certain technologies by government as they look to provide quicker and more efficient services to citizens and employees.

Looking at the year ahead, state governments recognize that they will continue to need technology solutions that support digital modernization for applications that enable remote workforce accessibility and online interactions with citizens. Here are the top four technology priorities that CIOs are looking for:

(1) Cloud Solutions

With the migration of traditional in-person services online, cloud technologies are crucial to deliver services en masse. Cloud solutions allow agencies to operate more efficiently, delivering services to a larger number of citizens. However, agencies will need vendor assistance to help them through the migration process so that services are migrated seamlessly, with no loss in uptime.

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Three Top Cloud Opportunities in the SLED Market

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Market Intelligence Manager

As I discussed in my recent session at the Arrow Technology Summit (now available on-demand), state and local governments are slowly making investments to upgrade and update aging legacy IT systems. As they do, they are presented with opportunities to increase their use of the cloud to provide digital and online services that will expand their constituent support — an especially important goal as many government buildings are currently closed.

While state governments are making larger and more substantial migrations to cloud services, many states are still working on what I’ll call the basics, things like email or other collaboration tools. Also topping the list are disaster recovery and office productivity tools. States that had already migrated these solutions to the cloud have had a significant advantage in terms of their preparedness to support a large-scale work-from-home environment. Read more of this post

Recent NASCIO 2020 Survey Reveals Shifting CIO Priorities

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

State governments have been on a roller-coaster ride as they have had to deal with a wide range of obstacles that have presented themselves in the last nine months. Responding to immediate enterprise-wide remote work requirements and the dramatic increases in online service demand have made it a particularly challenging time. But, at the same time, it has given states an opportunity to move forward transformation and modernization initiatives.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) publishes an annual survey of state CIOs and their perspectives. The 2020 State CIO Survey reveals insights from 47 states on how they are managing their IT enterprise and infrastructure and what they are anticipating in the upcoming year.

The overwhelming assumption by state CIOs is that work-from-home and remote-work options will not only continue but expand. In fact, CIOs from the States of Tennessee and Vermont believe that most of their workforces will be working from home through the remainder of the current school year. Read more of this post

Cloud or On-Premises? Government Can Have Both

By Ray Miles, Strategic Account Executive

Despite the growth and adoption of public clouds in government, a large majority of their applications remain outside and are maintained on-premises. As the evolution of cloud continues, government customers are faced with making the difficult decisions about which remaining applications should be placed in the cloud and which ones should remain on-premises.

Why remain on-premises?

There are many reasons for keeping applications and data on-premises, including application entanglement, data accessibility and resilience, security and compliance, unpredictable costs, exorbitant egress fees and at times the inability to capitalize on information everywhere.

The next phase of “Cloud First” will require an approach that enables government to innovate and modernize all of their applications and workloads, including those at the edge and on-premises. Organizations will need to connect all of their applications and data to devices to support employees and their customers — and meet their mission-critical objectives.

It is becoming even more complex as environments are starting to incorporate newer technologies for development operations, container management, machine learning operations, virtual machines, storage, high performance computing, data protection and networking to the edge. Read more of this post

FedRAMP Authorization: The Ins and Outs of DIY vs. Outsourcing

By Ryan Gilhooley, Enterprise Cloud Solutions Manager

Software vendors and federal systems integrators continually wrestle with authorization for their cloud services through the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). It’s fair to ask whether your company really needs FedRAMP authorization at all?

The short answer is yes: Applications have to be FedRAMP compliant before they can be sold to federal government agencies as software as a service (SaaS). FedRAMP authorized applications also are advertised on the FedRAMP Marketplace, which is where government agencies go to determine the types of solutions available to meet their requirements.

The real question is how to handle the cost and complexity of the technical, compliance and documentation challenges of FedRAMP authorization. Should it be handled in-house or should some or all of the process be outsourced? Read more of this post

Federal Modernization Challenges and Priorities for FY20

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

Data visibility, cloud and emerging technologies were important themes at a the recent IT Modernization summit hosted by FCW. The conference sessions brought together acquisition and IT officials from a variety of federal agencies, small and large, both civilian and DOD, who shared how their agencies are delivering on modernization goals.

Here are more details about these topics and advice on how you can position your company and solutions to stand out from the crowd.

Data Visibility

Agencies need improved visibility into their data. Data is the cornerstone of multiple technologies, powering AI and machine learning algorithms and bolstering cybersecurity efforts. It is, quite simply, crucial for government agencies to be able to gain as much insight into their data as possible in order to keep pace with rapid technological developments. Don Heckman, Principal Director in the Deputy Chief Information Office for Cybersecurity at DOD, noted that “visibility into assets is a huge challenge” for the agency. Read more of this post

Beyond Cyber Hygiene

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

Helping agencies lock the door to keep external threat actors out of IT networks, combined with education and training, can only go so far in protecting government assets. There will always be vulnerability.

Public sector networks, with their treasure trove of sensitive information, face vigorous targeting by nation states and cyber criminals looking to steal anything they can get their hands on. Cyber-attacks remain one of the clear and present threats of our time with an intensity that shows little signs of abating.

So, how can those selling security solutions to government help mitigate threats when good cyber hygiene isn’t enough? Read more of this post

CBP Plans Its Move to the Cloud

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently released an RFI seeking industry input on a comprehensive cloud solution that may lead to an RFP later this year or in early 2020. Cloud is a big topic of conversation at federal agencies, but right now, its bark is much larger than its bite. We can expect that to change over the next few years. As this new RFI shows us, agencies are looking to transition significant portions of their environment to the cloud. While traditional IT delivery models may still hold their value, cloud is the future.

CBP is the largest component within the Department of Homeland Security, and how it manages cloud may be indicative of how some of the smaller DHS agencies may also do so. Kshemendra Paul, DHS’s cloud officer, has indicated that only 10% of DHS applications are currently in the cloud. Another 30% are in process or are slated to move to the cloud. Most of what has already been migrated are easy-to-migrate applications like email. Large, mission-critical applications are still being hosted on premise and are likely to be the last of the applications to migrate. CBP will likely use the contract that results from this RFI to accomplish this migration.

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