California models a fast and easy path to the cloud for government agencies

There’s a faster, easier way for government IT departments to move workloads to the cloud. The California Department of Technology (CDT) makes this possible with Off-Premise Cloud Services, which contracts with top cloud service providers (CSPs) in a brokerage model that skips everyday procurement hurdles.
Providers include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. For context on the value of CDT’s cloud brokerage, Government Technology spoke with Jason Green, Oracle’s regional manager for the state of California; and Randy Hardee, vice president of solutions architecture at Mythics, a leading systems integrator for Oracle technologies.

How does the CDT Off-Premise Cloud Services program work?

Hardy: The program is an integrated, competitive bidding contract for cloud services that simplifies sourcing, onboarding, invoicing, and invoicing. CDT works as an IT service integrator for the state of California. Other agencies and departments rely on CDT for data center services and other computer programs.
Any state agency can procure cloud services through CDT through a simple request and approval process – rather than each individual department or agency going through a lengthy and drawn-out procurement process, including appeals bidding, selection, award, negotiations and other typical processes. Mythics holds the contract for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

What is the business case for joining the CDT program?

Green: It’s much faster to scale projects because it’s an easy button for procurement. Executing the contract also allows departments and agencies to take advantage of already established aggregate expenditures and pre-negotiated rates.
California has high security requirements associated with offsite implementation work and cloud services. All of these contracts are awarded under the FedRAMP moderate or higher cloud compliance model.

Can you tell us more about FedRAMP’s role in the program?

Green: FedRAMP stands for Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, which standardizes security assessment and authorization for cloud products and services used by US federal agencies. The goal is to ensure that federal data is constantly protected at a high level in the cloud.

Hardy: Many states, including California, use FedRAMP as a cloud compliance model or as the basis for their own state-level security compliance requirements. Additionally, all major CSPs like Oracle use FedRAMP as the basis for their compliance standard and audits.

Can you provide an anecdote that illustrates the appeal of this program?

Green: A California state agency had to quickly “repatriate” an Oracle database-based application from a data center that was closing. The CDT Oracle Off-Premise Cloud program made it easier for the agency to transition to a highly automated Oracle database that required fewer resources and reduced costs. Billing begins once the service is live. This is only for services consumed, and is billed monthly in arrears.

Hardy: This program eliminated a six-month to one-year track for the agency to create its own Oracle contract and go through the selection, award, and negotiation process. He entered the CDT program with a simple request/approval/onboarding process and migrated to Oracle Cloud within weeks.

The cloud economy tends to be complex. It’s easy to overspend unexpectedly. What types of controls are built into the CDT program?

Green: Our solution engineers (in conjunction with Mythics) work closely with workload owners to provide accurate power estimates. We can also use programmatic controls and automation to create alerts and actions to control costs.

What should heads of state think about before trying to launch such a program?

Green: Cloud service providers all charge for different metrics in different ways. For example, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure does not charge for network egress. Heads of state should review all CSPs for the best performing and lowest cost solutions and use solutions from multi-cloud platform vendors where it makes sense to cut costs.

Hardy: One of the things an agency looks at when choosing a CSP is how well their workloads match the CSP’s offering. Some workloads perform better in Oracle Cloud and some may perform better in Microsoft Azure. Oracle Cloud provides a better solution for Oracle-based technologies. If moving to the cloud is a viable option for an agency, then this program truly offers freedom of choice over which cloud service to use.

What are the main obstacles to overcome or pitfalls to avoid?

Green: Many customers choose IaaS-based solutions because they are the closest model to what they are used to. Running a virtual machine in a cloud rather than on premise is an easy step. However, for example, running large database forms in an IaaS environment can lead to extreme consumption costs, and PaaS solutions should be considered when available.

What are the critical success factors when participating in the CDT program?

Hardy: The most critical element is how quickly and easily you can start your project, i.e. how you move from basic integration steps to deploying your cloud services. In reality, when you get on board, you just get a clean slate of a cloud environment you need to create before you can really begin your migration or implementation tasks.
For example, you need to decide what your identity and role policy structure will be, what your VCN structure will be, and what security rules/privileges you need to put in place around the infrastructure.
There are a lot of things that need to be done upfront to get your project off the ground and that’s where a service provider like Mythics, who is well versed in Oracle Cloud deployments and projects, comes in.

What are the main steps in a process of implementing a system like this?

Green:
1. Understand the characteristics of your current workload.
2. Select the appropriate cloud services to support the workload.
3. Provide cost estimates.
4. Prove yourself in a systems engineer-led proof of concept.
5. Send a service request to CDT to provide services.
6. Migrate workloads.

What does the onboarding process look like?

Hardy: The integration is quite simple. If you are a participating entity (a state agency or other program-eligible entity), you notify CDT of your intent to become a participant and indicate which cloud service provider you will use. CDT will set you up as a new customer in its cloud management platform to manage other aspects of the program.
In our case, Oracle customers can skip the entire provisioning and reservation process that would normally occur after the PO. All we need to do is create a new bucket structure for them, create a bucket admin, and assign that role to the first power user for the new customer environment in their onboarding process. At this point, they can engage Mythics for additional cloud services to help with their onboarding and migration project. Mythics provides other additional project-level support through our cloud service delivery program.

To learn more and access this agreement, visit: www.mythics.com/cdt

Ashley C. Reynolds