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The future of critical infrastructure is in the cloud

Aerial View of City Network of Beijing Skyline

Among the challenges public sector agencies face, solving critical infrastructure problems are one of the most urgent. With cyberattacks, demands from citizens, and regulatory requirements growing in complexity, there is increasing pressure to deliver government services more effectively. In response to such pressure, countries across the globe are investing trillions of dollars to rebuild physical and digital infrastructure post-COVID-19 and invest in their economic futures.

The public sector needs trusted solutions that can help the public sector organizations secure, modernize, and manage critical infrastructure by providing the tools and services that enable digital transformation. Those who manage the critical infrastructure functions for their agency understand the potential to improve services, increase resilience, and cut costs.

Our recent whitepaper, Build the critical infrastructure services of the future with Microsoft Azure, further explores this idea by taking a closer look at some key challenges the public sector faces for critical infrastructure. This paper also examines how solutions available on Microsoft Azure can help solve them. This paper will help you learn how digital transformation can empower government agencies to meet their critical infrastructure challenges by providing insights from data to drive effective decisions, improve day-to-day operations, engage and empower citizens, and protect communities.

In the years I spent working with city and state governments, from San Francisco to New Orleans and New York, I learned there are many issues that need to be solved, but the two most urgent are regarding security and data. For example, as interim CIO of New York State in early 2020, I saw firsthand how incidents like a NetScaler vulnerability can cascade to cause major disruptions in state governments. Just as importantly, I also came to understand the effort and costs of responding to these disruptions in real time.

Security and data issues converge on compliance—an ever-present challenge for public sector technology. With regulatory standards continually adapting to new threats, remaining in compliance is crucial for organizations combatting attacks. While compliance audits can be a major source of stress for public sector agencies, the investment in security is well worth it.

To further emphasize the value of compliance, consider that in May 2021 President Biden issued a far-reaching Executive Order on cybersecurity, and in late July indicated that agencies should begin working on additional (though voluntary, for now) cybersecurity and resiliency efforts for critical infrastructure.

The writing is on the wall: if your agency can’t demonstrate high levels of both security and resilience in line with the new standards, you’re back to the drawing board.

In New York City, I spearheaded the NYCx program, featuring a challenge around cybersecurity and small business. This kind of proactive approach to building cybersecurity capacity is difficult, time-consuming, and absolutely necessary. It also has a high return on investment, particularly when compared to the ballooning costs of responding to incidents.

To avoid problems like these, public sector organizations can help themselves stay in compliance by adopting Zero Trust architecture—thereby improving supply chain security and accelerating their move to the cloud. Cloud adoption makes the deployment of foundational security controls that support Zero Trust, like identity management and data security, quick and easy. Together with gaining the ability to benchmark and visualize performance, compliance becomes more efficient and easier to maintain.

These problems are not abstract. They are specific, acute, and require solutions that respond not to a general concern but to the immediate, concrete needs of the public sector.

Cloud helps the public sector meet these challenges while enabling governments to create future-ready solutions that also integrate seamlessly with those that have already been implemented.

To learn more about how Azure solutions can help you solve your critical infrastructure challenges, read our new whitepaper: Build the critical infrastructure services of the future with Microsoft Azure.