2014 marked the beginning of the Infrastructure Revolution for several industries, many of which are following in the pre-emptive footsteps of the national government.
In February 2010, the Department of Defense created the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) to reverse the historic growth of Federal data centers. The FDCCI has been seeking to curb this unsustainable increase by reducing the cost of data center hardware, software, and operations; shifting IT investments to more efficient computing platforms; promoting the use of Green IT by reducing the overall energy and real estate footprint of government data centers; and increasing the IT security posture of the government.
Since then, the government has launched an IT modernization effort across departments which includes acquisition and deployment of more secure, collaborative, and mobile technologies—along with their associated skill sets and capabilities—to replace legacy environments.
By shutting down and consolidating under-performing technologies in the Federal inventory, taxpayers stand to save billions of dollars because of curbed spending on underutilized infrastructure. The smartest enterprises will follow suit, carefully architecting their path to modernization, leveraging key partners and modern technology architectures to create a more agile, secure IT environment.
What opportunities does modernization offer?
Legacy networking, communications and applications have become a significant IT and business problem in most industry IT departments. Not only do they require consistent maintenance from someone with a skill set that fewer and fewer people possess, they also carry a high cost of ownership and are difficult to modify when meeting ongoing business demands. Worse, with little leverage across these technologies, they are often forced to remain siloed instances, providing separate benefits to converging infrastructures.
IT modernization represents an opportunity for the evolution of government organizations’ (and others as well) existing application and infrastructure software, the goal being to align IT with forward-looking business strategies.
What are the immediate benefits of modernization?
While the government is actively modernizing its IT infrastructure, they will begin to find that they can react more quickly to the ever-changing environments (business, economic, political, etc). There are many results the public sector can expect from the process of modernizing. Namely:
- Intelligence – with converged infrastructures, including SDNs, virtualization, and distributed applications, leading to complete software-defined data centers with virtualization from desktop-to-network-to-applications.
- Agility – via improved standards for infrastructure programmability, data structure interoperability and fast infrastructure provisioning, leading to a more agile IT organization
- Alignment – by enabling IT practices that are more in line with business objectives.
- Responsiveness – as business changes create flux in organization size, location, and performance, IT is continually challenged to adapt at the speed of your business—a modern infrastructure puts IT in good stead to align with these changes.
- Flexibility and resilience – with systems that adapt automatically and recover from failure more quickly.
- Energy efficienciency – with technology and systems designed to reduce energy consumption.
To get the maximum strategic benefit from modernization, it is important to base your improved system on an architecture that is built on open standards and deployed on open systems. Just as important, is seeking holistic architectural thinking among your vendor suppliers that help you consider how a converged infrastructure can benefit your business.
What are the long-term benefits of modernization?
The success or failure of a consolidation/modernization initiative achieving long-term ROI depends on each organization’s goals. For many public sector businesses, long-term goals include: enhanced security, consolidating the infrastructure, and enhancing mobility.
Streamlining IT processes creates an agile IT infrastructure more capable of leveraging existing organizational vehicles for rapid delivery of tasks/orders. But none of this matters without a strong security platform that can withstand the stresses of and better respond to today’s cybersecurity threats.
A modernized IT platform must be hardened and able to detect, respond to, and report information security incidents, as well as developing situational awareness, utilizing authentication, reinforcing reciprocity, and leveraging automated assessments.
Today’s workforce demands applications that are always accessible and work consistently from any device. Public-sector organizations that consolidate their enterprise networks—ultimately standardizing IT platforms, consolidating data and network operations centers, and optimizing architectures—create an infrastructure that is easier to manage and more secure in order to help support active user involvement.
As with most other industries, there is a significant push for both central and local government and associated not-for-profit agencies to move towards more flexible modes of working. Providing location agnostic access to data is a hot topic for the public sector as is the desire to provide better standards of service to employees and customers. Transparent communication has the potential to accelerate productivity and help realize mission requirements—provided it can be achieved in the face of the escalating austerity of ever-changing security measures.
Modernizing and consolidating IT infrastructures helps address unique resource challenges surrounding public sector enterprise mobility. Consolidation also enables government agencies to implement scalable enterprise mobile management solutions that extend to users, devices, applications, content, data, email and networks.