Posted: 01 Jun. 2023 7 min. read

Taking cloud optimization to the next level

Creating greater cloud value for government organizations

A blog post by Doug Bourgeois, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP


For government organizations, cloud computing has become a core enabler of their IT strategy. As such, it’s essential for those organizations to optimize cloud operations not just for performance but to help achieve more effective mission outcomes. However, maximizing cloud value creates the need for government organizations to change how they operate and go beyond technical and cost optimization to take a holistic focus on creating and maximizing value.

Making the most of the pandemic shift to cloud

The pandemic pushed many government agencies headlong into cloud, some perhaps before they were ready to make the leap. As such, many agencies shifted from exploring cloud to making it the center of their IT operational strategy. However, continued operational stressors and competing technological imperatives are leaving many agency CIOs with tough choices about how to best use their resources.

The pandemic strain demonstrated both the urgent need for flexibility and the power of the cloud to provide it. Cloud-native development is getting more attention, and the use of cloud APIs, which enable seamless communication across various interagency and outside applications, has also expanded. However, many agencies are looking for ways to optimize the value cloud brings to their organization.

To help optimize cloud value, there a few strategies that companies can employ:

  • Follow a road map and playbook: Use a road map and playbook to show the direction and outline of the objectives for furthering the organization’s mission with cloud (e.g., which legacy applications can and should be relocated) as well as to reveal potential stumbling blocks.
  • Assess the ecosystem: Accelerate the cloud journey by identifying resources that will help achieve the objective of cloud migration most effectively. 
  • Deploy FinOps: Use FinOps to help identify challenging-to-quantify mission benefits of cloud and to help structure and optimize cost management.
  • Create pathways for people: Design new career pathways for cloud specialists to give people a chance to advance without having to leave the company.

Cloud optimization is a path, not a destination

Cloud is an ongoing journey; not a singular destination. With that in mind, there are steps organizations can take to make the journey smoother.

  1. Define metrics for mission effectiveness: Set up mission metrics and collect appropriate data to measure them as a first step toward optimization. 
  2. Establish a cross-functional council to manage cloud investments: Bring together IT and mission leaders and lay the foundation for ongoing and productive collaboration.
  3. Keep track of cloud consumption and include those metrics in financial reporting: Combine the technical and financial picture of cloud operations and use disciplines like FinOps to manage timelines more effectively.
  4. Integrate climate, equity, and other factors into corporate decisions: Incorporating climate-effect criteria into cloud acquisition choices could reveal instances where marginal improvements would not be cost or climate effective.

The path to cloud optimization

The technical aspects of cloud optimization, such as monitoring workloads, use, and costs, are hot topics. However, as more government organizations use cloud, optimizing it becomes more than thinking about costs and performance. It becomes about engaging with a larger group of stakeholders to determine how to use cloud holistically to optimize strategic outcomes, organizational missions, FinOps, and sustainability.

Optimizing strategic outcomes

The primary way government organizations can create value for their constituents is to achieve their defined strategic outcomes. So, cloud optimization efforts should focus on those outcomes and objectives. For example, human services agencies could focus on processing claims faster, health care agencies could focus on using secure patient data to develop new treatments, and intelligence agencies could more rapidly and securely share information. Of course, performance should be continually assessed and used to improve outcomes.

Optimizing the organization

As cloud becomes a mission-enablement tool, mission leaders from both the business and IT should collaborate on decision making. To enable collaboration, governance structures and organizational cultures should be shifted to encourage more cooperation and further collaborative efforts. As a caveat, it’s crucial to recognize and account for the complex interaction between workforce and operations (especially as cloud shifts how agencies accomplish their mission), how the workforce functions, and who is in that workforce. Leaders must be ever aware of their teams’ roles and responsibilities, and how well they work together.

Building a comprehensive, optimized workforce model is key—one that has cloud embedded in decision-making and is organized effectively to execute a cloud strategy that has a robust learning model and talent strategy. Cloud is a great opportunity to embed innovation in an agency, so realignment of skill should go hand in hand with the culture of collaboration so it can spur innovation.

Optimizing with FinOps

Governmental entities must not only carry out their mandate, but also do so responsibly with taxpayer money. Resources should be properly allocated and used to reduce waste and downtime. FinOps can help. FinOps is the practice of bringing financial ability to cloud operations and helping identify gaps and areas for improvement. It’s one key to optimizing cloud value.

Besides helping optimize costs, FinOps can enhance mission effectiveness in three ways:

  1. Create a common language: FinOps can create a common language between different parts of the organization to help identify, quantify, and compare organizational goals and value. Leaders can then agree on common terms for value across the enterprise and build common practices to optimize value.
  2. Align on common success metrics: After defining a common language for mission value, agencies can begin to measure it. FinOps’ show-back and charge-back mechanisms can help define common KPIs that can quantify value to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.
  3. Overcome common barriers: FinOps can help agencies use cloud to its fullest potential. With the always-on nature of FinOps, organizations can better cope with rapid and continual change. They can also address shadow IT problems that result from IT systems deployed by business units without central visibility. Finally, FinOps can help streamline and modernize cloud procurement amid the requirements of traditional government contracting policies. 
Optimizing for sustainability 

Value delivery involves creating new value while preserving value that already exists. Sustainability is one area agencies can look to both deliver new value and preserve resources for the future. For example, agencies can optimize cloud to reduce their energy use and carbon footprint. Cloud providers can scale operations more effectively to meet demand than on-premise data centers can.

The scale of cloud provider operations also enables them to leverage economies of scale to invest in greener technology by building massive server farms that pool resources and use renewable resources such as wind, solar, and nuclear power—which can be far more sustainable than traditional energy sources that on-premise operations use. Other sustainability initiatives could include changing procurement practices to favor green vendors and investing in greener microchip technology.

Looking forward

Optimizing cloud should equate to optimizing the organizational mission itself. The ascendance of cloud presents government agencies with an opportunity to change how they deliver value to their constituents. If agencies optimize their cloud deployments effectively, it could lead to a sound, operationally effective agency that could deliver enhanced value while creating lasting value and efficiency going forward.


To take a deeper dive, read Deloitte’s article, “Don’t just adopt cloud computing, adapt to it.”

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Doug Bourgeois

Doug Bourgeois

Managing Director | Deloitte Consulting LLP

Doug Bourgeois is a managing director in the Federal Technology Strategy & Architecture practice, focusing on cloud computing and shared services. Doug has a long history in both areas. He previously led multiple cloud and secure mobility projects at VMware, where he served as vice president of End User Computing and previously as chief cloud executive for Public Sector. Prior to that role, Doug served as the Executive Director of the US Department of Interior’s National Business Center, a Federal Shared Services provider.