Online government services are notoriously clunky. But it’s not because people in government agencies don’t want to provide quality customer experiences. They’re stuck with monolithic architecture and methods of software development. Cloud-native architecture allows government agencies to gradually modernize their systems, speed up software development, and provide excellent services to citizens.
A cloud-native approach works for government services because it's an incremental process toward modernizing architecture and systems. Instead of overhauling your platforms, network, and application ecosystem all at once, you can build a single cloud-native app that builds public trust and go from there.
Whether it’s tax services, emergency alerts, disaster relief, public comments, transportation, smart city capabilities, or healthcare, here’s how cloud-native can help gov services deliver better customer experiences to citizens and save you money.
What does cloud-native mean for government services?
Cloud-native development and architecture refer to a set of principles, practices, and technologies that enable the development and deployment of applications in a cloud computing environment. It emphasizes leveraging the capabilities and benefits of cloud platforms to build scalable, resilient, and flexible applications.
When it comes to government services, cloud-native is a path to move away from monolithic systems to light, extendable digital services and applications. Your agency can use it to speed up digital transformation, optimize costs through workflow efficiency and IT resourcing, and deliver government services faster than you thought possible.
What parts of cloud-native development and architecture are relevant for gov services?
When you want to modernize your service delivery and government operations, a cloud-native approach gives you a tangible path to reaching those goals. You can get all the benefits of the cloud for software development and still achieve the level of security you need to comply with strict government data regulations.
Here’s a list of what capabilities you get when you adopt a cloud-native approach for delivering government services:
- Enhanced security and compliance: Security and compliance are paramount in government services. Cloud-native architectures provide opportunities to strengthen security by adopting best practices such as secure containerization, automated vulnerability scanning, and centralized logging and monitoring. Cloud providers also offer a range of security features and certifications – making it easier for government agencies to meet regulatory requirements and protect sensitive data.
- Microservices: Cloud-native applications are built as a collection of small, loosely coupled services known as microservices. Each microservice focuses on a specific government capability and can be developed, deployed, and scaled independently. This service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach promotes modularity, agility, and scalability.
- Containerization: Containers play a crucial role in cloud-native architecture. They provide a lightweight and portable way to package an application with its dependencies and configurations. Containers enable consistent deployment across different environments, like development, testing, and production. Docker is a popular containerization technology used in the cloud-native ecosystem.
- Container orchestration: To manage and scale containerized applications, orchestration tools are vital. Kubernetes is the most widely adopted container orchestration platform. It automates container deployment, scaling, and management tasks, ensuring high availability and fault tolerance. Kubernetes simplifies the deployment and management of complex microservices architectures.
- DevOps capabilities and CI/CD: Cloud-native development encourages the integration of development (Dev) and operations (Ops) teams, promoting collaboration and faster release cycles. DevOps practices involve continuous integration, continuous delivery (CI/CD), automated testing, and infrastructure as code (IaC). These practices enable frequent releases, faster time to market, and the ability to iterate and improve applications rapidly.
- Scalability and elasticity: Cloud-native architecture allows applications to scale horizontally by adding more instances of services based on demand. This elasticity is achieved through the use of container orchestration and automatic scaling mechanisms. Applications can dynamically adapt to changes in workload (e.g. tax season, health insurance open enrollment, natural disasters, etc.), ensuring optimal resource utilization and cost efficiency.
- Resilience and fault tolerance: Cloud-native applications are designed to handle failures gracefully. They utilize distributed architectures, where services are resilient to failures of individual components. Techniques such as redundancy, load balancing, and circuit breakers ensure that the system remains operational despite failures or network disruptions.
- Observability and monitoring: Cloud-native applications employ comprehensive monitoring and observability practices. This includes logging, metrics collection, distributed tracing, and centralized monitoring systems. These tools help identify performance bottlenecks, troubleshoot issues, and gain insights into the application's behavior in a dynamic and distributed environment.
What are some use cases in cloud-native development for government services?
Your agency might be tasked with managing public transportation for millions of people. Or you might have to deliver something on the same scale as a new healthcare.gov website. Whatever your agency needs to deliver to the public, a cloud-native approach makes it possible to build and release a scalable solution that meets your budget requirements, improves operational efficiency, and enhances citizen experiences.
Here are some of the biggest use cases for cloud-native at government agencies:
- Agency workflow efficiency: Cloud-native development can improve workflow efficiency in government agencies by automating processes, reducing manual efforts, and enabling seamless collaboration. Agencies can streamline approvals, document management, and task assignments by leveraging cloud-based workflow management systems and microservices. This results in faster response times, reduced paperwork, and improved efficiency.
- Online tax services: Cloud-native architecture can enhance online tax services by providing scalable and secure platforms for tax filing, payment processing, and taxpayer services. Agencies can leverage cloud services to handle peak loads during tax seasons, ensure high availability, and provide personalized user experiences. Cloud-native security features and compliance certifications help protect sensitive taxpayer data.
- Health insurance portals: Cloud-native can improve public health insurance portals – enabling seamless enrollment, claims processing, and management of health-related data. By adopting microservices architecture and containerization, agencies can build modular applications that integrate with various healthcare systems, facilitate interoperability, and ensure data privacy and security.
- Emergency services portals: During emergencies, cloud-native architectures can support the rapid deployment of emergency services portals for information dissemination, resource coordination, and public communication. Cloud scalability ensures the portals can handle high traffic and provide real-time updates. Cloud-based analytics and monitoring also enable agencies to gather insights and respond effectively during critical situations.
- Open and secure data platforms: Governments increasingly aim to provide open access to public data. Cloud-native architectures facilitate the creation of open data platforms that offer APIs, data catalogs, and visualizations. By leveraging cloud services for data storage, processing, and distribution, agencies can enable developers, researchers, and the public to access and utilize government data in innovative ways.
- Citizen service portals: Cloud-native development enables the creation of citizen service portals that provide a centralized platform for accessing government services and information. These portals can offer features such as personalized user profiles, service request tracking, online payments, and chatbots for citizen support. Cloud scalability ensures that portals can handle varying traffic volumes and provide consistent user experiences.
- Smart city solutions: Cloud-native architecture plays a crucial role in building smart city solutions. By leveraging IoT devices, data analytics, and cloud services, governments can collect and analyze data from various sources to optimize city operations, improve transportation systems, enhance public safety, and enable efficient resource management. Cloud-native approaches provide the scalability, agility, and real-time capabilities required for such solutions.
Choosing the right cloud data warehouse for migration is a whole process on its own. Our experts would be happy to talk with you here if you want advice.
10 steps to start implementing cloud-native at your government agency
Remember that transitioning to cloud-native architecture is a long journey. But there are iterative steps you can take, and you can see results much faster than you might think possible. Start with developing a plan, assessing internal software development skills, and finding the right cloud service providers and DevOps experts to build your first pilot project or application.
Here’s the basic approach to starting with cloud-native at any government agency:
- Develop a comprehensive strategy and roadmap for adopting cloud-native architecture. Align your roadmap with your agency's digital transformation goals and consider scalability, efficiency, security, and user experience.
- Assess the existing skill sets of your IT team and hire cloud-native experts to ensure they have the expertise in cloud-native technologies. Look for senior cloud-native teams with experience in containerization (e.g., Docker), container orchestration (e.g., Kubernetes), DevOps tools, and cloud platforms.
- Evaluate different cloud providers based on their offerings, security features, compliance certifications, pricing models, and suitability for government requirements. Choose a provider (e.g. AWS, Azure, Google Cloud) that aligns with your agency's needs and meets regulatory and compliance standards.
- Identify applications suitable for migration to a cloud-native architecture. Then prioritize your roadmap based on impact and complexity, and determine whether containerization or refactoring to microservices is required. Plan migration strategies considering factors like data migration, testing, and cutover plans.
- Ensure that your cloud-native architecture adheres to security best practices and meets compliance requirements. Implement access controls, encryption mechanisms, and security monitoring tools. Conduct thorough security assessments and penetration testing to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities.
- Evaluate your agency's infrastructure and networking capabilities to support a cloud-native architecture. Ensure that your network infrastructure can handle increased traffic and connectivity requirements. Consider network segmentation, load balancing, and hybrid cloud configurations if needed.
- Foster a cultural shift by promoting collaboration and cross-functional teams to embrace the principles of DevOps. Encourage a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and experimentation to support the adoption of cloud-native practices.
- Start with small-scale pilot projects or proof of concepts to validate the cloud-native approach before scaling up. Choose applications that can demonstrate the benefits of scalability, resilience, and efficiency. Learn from the pilot projects to refine your approach and address challenges or limitations.
- Implement robust monitoring and governance mechanisms for your cloud-native applications. Utilize monitoring tools to track performance, availability, and resource utilization. Establish policies and procedures for managing cloud resources, controlling costs, and ensuring compliance with regulations.
- Engage cloud service providers, software development consultancies, and other government agencies that have adopted cloud-native architectures. Learn from their experiences, leverage their expertise, and collaborate to overcome challenges and share best practices.
How do I hire experts in cloud-native software development for government services?
It could take 6-18 months (or much, much longer) to hire an internal team that’s ready to build cloud-native for your government agency. Senior cloud-native development experts are already in high demand in the private sector and will likely get better salaries there. The most well-funded enterprises in the world are having problems hiring cloud-native experts, but you can get a team to start in 3-6 weeks with Codingscape.
We have senior software engineers and agile pros who know cloud-native inside and out. Our team can design and build your cloud-native architecture, help you prioritize your technology roadmap, and start building new government services fast.
We’re not a software engineer recruiting agency either. You scope out the work with us, and we’ll integrate with your team, technology stack, and partner with you for as long as you need us.
We’ve built solutions for The City of Las Vegas and The State of Vermont. Zappos, Twilio, and Veho are just a few companies that trust us to build software with fully managed data in the cloud. Our teams know cloud-native for government and love to help agencies leverage them to the fullest.
You can schedule a time to talk with us here. No hassle, no expectations, just answers.
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Cole is Codingscape's Content Marketing Strategist & Copywriter.