The COVID-19 pandemic “exponentially accelerated” the pace of change in government IT – including the move to hybrid cloud infrastructures – and increased data sharing at Federal agencies like the State Department, government and industry officials said.

Those insights corroborate findings from MeriTalk’s recent Hybrid at Hyperspeed study which found 85 percent of its 300 Federal, state, and local IT respondents said the pandemic amplified the importance of migrating to hybrid cloud environments. The study also revealed that 67 percent said the pandemic pushed their hybrid cloud adoption ahead by at least a year.

“We’ve seen a trend towards looking at hybrid solutions, especially when there are a large amount of disparate data sharing activities that need to happen,” Brian Merrick, director of the Cloud Program Management Office at State, stated during MeriTalk’s “Hybrid at Hyperspeed” webinar on March 18th.

Data sharing, especially for analytics purposes, is one of the most applicable use cases for hybrid cloud environments, according to Merrick. Those uses are increasingly common due to the necessity of data sharing in remote work environments required by the pandemic.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in data analytics requirements, data sharing across multiple other agency partners, and different tool sets within our enterprise,” Merrick added. “So, it’s really breaking down those sort of data silos that existed before COVID and providing the impetus to really drive that change much faster through the exigent circumstances than we probably would have been able to get to just ordinarily.”

Michelle Rudnicki, public sector vice president at NetApp, noted a similar shift in the public sector’s move to hybrid cloud infrastructures at the same event.

“We’ve also seen an uptick from a telework, a telehealth, and a tele-education standpoint … continuing to drive that need to access information from different places in different locations,” Rudnicki said. “So instead of just thinking about ‘What’s the application that I’m driving?’ or ‘What’s the service that I need to be delivering to the citizen?’ it’s really looking at, okay, ‘Now I need to be able to do it from everywhere, right, I need to be able to burst into the cloud.’”

The accelerated pace of hybrid cloud adoption has also pushed organizations to better define and get more comfortable with their hybrid cloud strategies.

“Most organizations are really starting to settle in on this hybrid strategy, whereas before their strategy may have been cloud only or on-premises only,” Rudnicki said. “We really have seen the evolution of the hybrid architecture and that’s becoming the de facto standard.”

“We wouldn’t really say the strategy itself had changed [at State], I would say [we’ve] really used this opportunity to accelerate,” Merrick said. “It enabled us to get more ubiquitous buy-in from the business layer and certainly from senior management – who might have been hesitant before about sharing data, or might not have really understood a lot of the risk implications of different activities, but it really didn’t change the strategy overall. We just got there faster than we were on track to, which I think is good.”

MeriTalk’s full Hybrid at Hyperspeed study and report is available here.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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