Government Organization Modernizes Its IT Infrastructure with Cloud Adoption

A technology-led, innovation-focused program, acting as the central resource for expertise in the application of high-performance computing technology for an executive branch department of the US federal government

Background: In April 2020, this US government organization was still operating with its HPC infrastructure hosted, managed, and delivered via on-premise hardware. Faced with limited systems capacities and inefficient usage, the program realized cloud migration would generate the scalability and flexibility to mitigate its challenges and improve the service it could deliver for its customers. The program also needed to modernize and future-proof its HPC infrastructures. It expected many of its customers to adopt the HPC cloud eventually, and eventually and wanted them to do so under its auspices. A robust HPC cloud strategy would enable the organization to maintain its industry-leading performance and retain customers, while optimizing the functioning of its wider HPC estate.

Challenges: Before taking any further steps, the program needed to understand whether this was the right decision, with a specific focus on which aspects of its HPC systems to migrate to the cloud. It also needed help planning the process to ensure such a complex modernization project could be delivered successfully. A re-design of the organization’s business model was also necessary, to allow it to operate HPC cloud resources moving forward.

To determine the best course of action, the program needed support in devising and executing a strategic approach to modernizing its existing HPC infrastructure by migrating certain systems and workloads to the cloud. The program also sought to transform its existing operational model to accommodate a new cloud-based HPC environment.

The program enlisted the expertise of Guidehouse to provide an objective perspective on how to solve these challenges. This included answering questions such as:

  • If they were to adopt HPC cloud, how could they re-design their business model to support migration?
  • Should they migrate their entire HPC infrastructure, or just certain components?
  • If the latter, how would they determine which components should be migrated?

Solutions: Assessment and Analysis
Migrating a HPC infrastructure to the cloud, or adopting a hybrid model combining both cloud and on-premise systems, presents complex challenges. The program required a partner with proven knowledge and experience encompassing not just relevant technologies but structural and operational implications as well.

Guidehouse worked closely with the program to conduct a full assessment of its current situation, incorporating business model analysis, workload assessment, evaluation of service delivery, use case development, vendor landscape analysis, and cost assessments.

Strategy and Guidance
Guidehouse developed a bespoke strategy based on the findings of those assessments, designed specifically to meet the program’s unique objectives and requirements.

Migrating IT systems to the cloud is fairly straightforward. However, determining which aspects of the HPC environment were suited to migration, and what needed to remain on-premise, was the key challenge. The program was unable to allow any of its highly sensitive data or classified workloads to be hosted in the cloud for security reasons.

Therefore, Guidehouse advised the adoption of a hybrid model, retaining some existing on-premise hardware while also leveraging innovative new cloud-based services in other areas. Additionally, Guidehouse discovered through its workload analysis that some of the program’s systems would be better suited to remaining in an on-premise context for the purpose of performance.

Business Model Re-Design
Adoption of cloud-based services to power the HPC environment would require a shift in the business model and organizational structure. The program did not have a team in place capable of supporting the new cloud-based systems, nor did it have the ability to establish one.
To ensure the success of the eventual cloud implementation, Guidehouse used its extensive experience in effective business model re-design projects, for both public and commercial sectors, to assist in recruiting certain additional resources and re-structuring areas of the existing IT department to create a new cloud-specific team.

Cloud systems require constant monitoring and support, specialist skills, and an entirely different approach to traditional on-premise IT systems. Thus, this business model re-design also involved training staff, assigning new roles and responsibilities, introducing cloud-specific management and governance, and establishing effective channels of communication and collaboration between teams.

Tailored IT Modernization
Getting the strategic approach to IT modernization correct ensures a streamlined process and superior results. The program’s new cloud-based HPC infrastructure will be fully agile and scalable, optimizing its usage and improving performance. More efficient and effective use of HPC systems will reduce the unused resources currently occurring in the on-premise systems, ultimately allowing the program to provide better service to its customers.
The eventual completion of this IT modernization project will also allow the organization to remain as an industry leader with its HPC capabilities, delivering significant advantages and competitive differentiation. The program is meeting these goals via enthusiastic evolution on both the organizational and technological levels.

How Guidehouse Helped the Program Overcome its Its Challenges with Cloud Transformation
Guidehouse’s HPC cloud strategy, suggested hybrid infrastructure, and business model re-designe were all accepted by the executive team within the program. All parties involved understood that IT modernization is not just about changing technologies, but also about people and processes.

The program’s highly regulated, sensitive data; IT function and assets; and exceptional workforce has have benefitted from:

Incorporating Long-Term Strategy: Following the program’s acceptance of the proposed approach, Guidehouse gathered market intelligence, analyzed responses from vendors, and identified the most qualified partners available to deliver an HCP cloud migration. This fruitful collaboration will continue, from next steps through to long-term oversight, to ensure the program retains its IT edge and unmatched value to its customers.

Enabling Organizational Change: The program was given a clear approach to a cloud-friendly business model, preparing the organization to follow a step-by-step strategy through each phase of its IT modernization initiative. With its structural and operational models expertly re-designed to meet its specific requirements for, the program was able to successfully implement a new hybrid model for its HPC infrastructure.

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