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Puppet and Government: Maintaining compliance in complex hybrid cloud environments

This blog is the third in a four-part series about how Puppet can help government agencies meet compliance and security requirements. Read the second post here.

Government agency IT departments know that migrating applications to the cloud can improve efficiency, increase visibility, and reduce costs. They also recognize the value in keeping some operation resources on-premises. This shift to hybrid operations creates complexity and a need for government IT infrastructures to accommodate many different types of resources. But how can teams efficiently manage a complex hybrid infrastructure while ensuring their agencies’ Zero Trust security standards and IT compliance requirements are met?

Creating compliant and agile hybrid environments

The attraction to the cloud is clear: Moving apps and workflows to the cloud allows government agencies to lower their costs and make better use of asset virtualization. Cloud-based infrastructures offer the scalability, remote access, and improved collaboration that agency operations need to meet current standards while moving their mission forward. Similarly, on-premises infrastructure can deliver the control, capabilities, and security that might not be achievable in the cloud.

The beauty of hybrid tools is that they’re agile and can work in unison. The trick for IT is to create a hybrid environment without compromising Zero Trust security and policy compliance requirements. In order to achieve the efficient and secure management of complex hybrid cloud environments, IT teams need to consider four key aspects: Security, Documentation and Discovery, Monitoring, and Automation.

Security

Zero Trust security models are now the standard requirement for government security and require a never trust, always verify approach to protect infrastructures. While this may seem a straightforward concept to consider for a traditional government workplace, the last several years have re-defined what “traditional government workplace” means. Today’s government teams are a blend of contractor and employee, remote and onsite. When creating a hybrid cloud, IT departments should consider the full range of work, including cyber threats outside traditional network boundaries. A Zero Trust model eliminates automated trust of access to any application or device and instead requires continuous verification whether users are on-premises, offsite at a partner location, or remote.

Documentation and Discovery

Clear, usable documentation and discovery are critical for a secure, agile hybrid IT environment. More often than not, security risks are not malicious or intentional. They can be caused by simple human error. The World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Risk Report states that 95 percent of cybersecurity threats were caused, in some way, by human error. When reviewing the lifecycle of vulnerability management across different clouds and environments, the inventory and discovery of all assets across the infrastructure are critical to be able to monitor and protect resources. And it helps IT teams to identify unauthorized or unmanaged assets that need to be removed or remediated. Having a documented plan to remediate vulnerabilities to assets will enable faster recovery when threats occur.

Monitoring

Cloud services often require a different monitoring strategy than on-premises servers. Effective monitoring across the hybrid platform will require additional planning and a slightly different approach than in traditional, homogeneous environments. This is where APIs can be most effective. Using APIs is a way to integrate monitoring protocols and keep a unified watch over cloud and on-premises resources, creating improved visibility and monitoring over an entire infrastructure. APIs can help ensure consistent performance and more accurate inventory data.

Automation

Establishing an automation mindset is essential for modern resource management, compliance, and security, especially for a hybrid infrastructure. With the different needs of cloud and on-premises infrastructures, the ever-evolving threat landscape and today’s “work anywhere” environments, agencies must look to automate as much as possible. Automation not only reduces workloads but manages scale and improves security and response times. With solutions available today, IT departments can develop low-code workflows that automate incident response, event-driven workflow operations, security, and continuous delivery of updates.

Government agencies can move to a hybrid environment while maintaining security and compliance requirements. By first understanding how their environment will shift, an agency can adopt the right solutions to create a secure and compliant hybrid cloud.

Adopting automation for a compliant hybrid cloud environment

Puppet helps government agencies cut through the complexity of running a compliant hybrid cloud infrastructure. With Puppet solutions, agencies can manage and automate their infrastructure while meeting compliance requirements simply and efficiently.

Puppet Enterprise helps agencies scale their cloud infrastructure as their need for automation grows. Built on open source technology, Puppet Enterprise brings a solution that combines model-based and task-based capabilities. IT departments can automate building and deploying applications to their infrastructure in order to remove manual labor and the risk of human error. With Puppet, IT operations teams can effortlessly scale infrastructure across complex hybrid cloud environments. The entire infrastructure can be automated and managed by one code from the operating system to the network, the middleware, and the application layers. The infrastructure’s compliance lifecycle is met with the help of Puppet Comply. IT operations can assess infrastructure compliance and identify failures. Once assessed, IT can remediate and then enforce ongoing compliance with Puppet Enterprise.

Puppet Forge helps IT operations supercharge and simplify their cloud automation. With Puppet Forge, agencies can extend the automation of complex workflows and track agency tasks, and IT operations can also assess infrastructure compliance and identify failures.

Maintaining compliance in an agency’s hybrid cloud

By taking the time to understand how their environment will shift, an agency can create a plan that will lead to a compliant hybrid cloud. Puppet’s solutions assure compliance and security for applications and other operational services in almost any environment. Puppet integrates across cloud platforms and operating systems to address the entire hybrid environment and agencies remain agile and compliant while growing their cloud infrastructure needs.

Join us for the next and final blog in this four-part series. We’ll discuss infrastructure as code for agency agility. And discover how Puppet can help government agencies maintain compliance, be more efficient, and gain agility.

Melissa Palmer is the Area VP of Public Sector at Puppet.

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