As federal agencies continue moving more of their data into a cloud computing environment, many are making new headway to support broader mission goals.
That’s the story taking shape at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an independent federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance.
The ability to leverage cloud services has played a pivotal role in helping USAID support several key mission objectives, including efforts to foster global health, climate sustainability, and supply chain initiatives, according to USAID Chief Information Officer Jason Gray.
Gray’s office supports USAID operations in more than 80 countries worldwide, providing disaster relief, poverty relief, and technical cooperation on global issues, such as environment, global health and humanitarian assistance. That includes providing information resources to nearly 14,000 users worldwide. “The cloud has been absolutely critical to our IT operations,” he said in a recent Scoop News Group video interview.
“Being geographically dispersed across the globe, having a central spot [to access data and], not having to depend on local network infrastructure or connectivity,” has made a critical difference in timely decision-making, he said. “In the last few months, we’ve had several order departures where we’ve had to evacuate people from areas like Sudan and Nigeria and Haiti, and the ability to have the data in the cloud to be able to inform decision making in these cases, [has been] absolutely critical. “
Gray pointed out another benefit of the cloud: “being able to develop once and use many [times] and establish best practices and not have to sift through numerous environments. That has been really helpful being in a cloud model instead of having IT siloed,” he said.
Jamie Baker, director of federal civilian health science policy at Amazon Web Services, credited USAID’s progress to being one of the earliest adopters of cloud computing. What USAID and other agencies are discovering, he said, is “that once you get your data into a [cloud] ecosystem, you now have access to cloud-native tools where you can test and try different analytics capabilities, different databases, and get access to hundreds of independent software vendors…and see what are the best ways that you can actually put that data to use.”
Gray and Baker offer recommendations on how leveraging the cloud can reduce administrative overhead, free up resources to support more meaningful work, and accelerate automation and speed up security patching and development.
This video panel discussion was produced by Scoop News Group, for FedScoop and underwritten by Amazon Web Services.