Agile Mentoring, Federal Government

Accelerating the Journey to IT Agility


agility and agile development with HPE

In order to achieve your organization’s goals, you must embrace and join the digital revolution. This includes dealing with cyber risk while striving to become more agile and developing more customer centric methodologies while also remaining workforce-minded for continued innovation. In government, these themes are especially true as services continue to develop as citizens and IT departments move away from bulky legacy systems in order to improve flexibility and enhance cyber security protocols.

At Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Sixth Annual Government Summit, government and industry speakers came together to discuss these changes and the impact they’re having on services and the journey to IT agility. Attendees learned how to transform to a hybrid IT infrastructure, protect their digital enterprises, empower their data-driven organization, enable workforce productivity, and innovate defense health procedures. Perhaps the most poignant sessions of the day came from the government speakers who told their stories on how their agencies and organizations have realized success with automation, information sharing, and IT monitoring – DISA, FBI, and IRS shared their accounts, struggles, and achievements.

DISA’s Framework for Agility

Many agencies are trying to make the move to cloud, yet even the most optimistic estimates of cloud adoption note that there is a significant, if not majority, spend on traditional on-premise systems. In the DoD, DISA is leading the way in adopting a more agile cloud. Dave Mihelic, CTO of DISA, noted that the DoD should build a cloud framework that strives for increased agility, interchangeable parts, and increased automation in order to realize cost savings and improve service levels. Mihelic explained that although DoD IT is 80% virtualized, the department is still trying to move up the hybrid continuum – which evolves from thinking about cloud, to virtualization, to moving apps over, to full hybridity – for greater operational efficiency.

And when it comes to the cloud, orchestration and automation are the critical steps in transformation – Mihelic put it simply: “If you can’t automate something in your IT infrastructure, you ought not to do it.” He also stated that customization is a key enemy when it comes to cloud standardization and, in turn, automation. Custom solutions, while at first may seem like an ideal resolution to cloud adoption, actually make agile development more difficult, if not impossible. Therefore, finding a solution that can be adopted and easily adjusted over time is an important step in moving to a hybrid cloud.

DISA implemented HPE software to automate and orchestrate their infrastructure, which resulted in over 60,000 saved man hours. Yet still, Mihelic warned that even with the continued success of the DISA hybrid cloud project, cultural change is still the biggest barrier to cloud adoption and automation.

FBI Sentinel Project

The FBI’s Sentinel project, an internal information sharing and collaboration system, started many years before its functional roll out and was developed using an independent contractor. However, over the past 5 years the FBI had spent over $400 million and the project had more defects than errors, according to Jeff Johnson, FBI CTO. After its first year of use and implementation, the project received tremendous scrutiny by oversight entities and by end-users. In response, in 2010 Johnson became the program manager and took corrective action to Sentinel. Johnson’s actions were unprecedented in FBI IT development. He realized that it was time to take risks to go after success – so he began an agile development methodology for Sentinel. Over the next 20 months, FBI fired the initial contractor and spent an additional $30 million to complete the project. Johnson and his team strategized their agile development with bi-weekly updates to the system. Sentinel was successfully implemented in July 2012, performing at 140 transactions per second for over 30,000 unique users.

Through agile development, the FBI continues to enhance Sentinel’s features and functionality while maintaining security and performance. The Sentinel program is both innovative and flexible, demonstrating FBI’s can-do attitude and willingness to adjust to change.

IRS’s Journey to World Class IT Operations

The IRS’s mission is critical to the success of the federal government; the 3 trillion dollars they bring in annually supports purchasing DoD planes and ships, enacting social programs, and offers the capital necessary to make our government run. Therefore, their systems must be up-to-date and working seamlessly to serve other agencies efficiently and effectively. The IRS vision is to maintain optimal availability for customers and employees through processes and technology that provide end-to-end monitoring, constant incident reduction, and a growing maturity to prevent future cases. Yet, the IRS’s journey to world class IT has spanned over multiple years, has a massive scope, and is limited by development freezes due to tax season. IRS developers must act quickly and efficiently to develop the services they need. Like many other agencies though, IRS operational challenges consist of a mix of old and new technologies, the difficulty of implementing large scale change, employees and contractors working in silos, and teams being forced to work reactively as opposed to proactively. By integrating IT Service Management (ITSM) support systems, the IRS has been able to realize IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Process Maturity, responsiveness, standards, better expectations for end-users, and reduced complexity. And through their continuous process of IT development and agile change, the IRS has learned many valuable lessons:

  • Organizational support and coordination is critical to mission success
  • Technology doesn’t always work as designed “out of the box”
  • Momentum is almost everything
  • Standards are important, but so is flexibility
  • Adoption is the most relevant KPI

By continuing to innovate during their on-periods, the IRS is building a stronger, more adaptive workforce that is realizing system errors before end-users, is flexible, and meets citizen needs.

IT success happens through acceleration, agility, maturity, and cultural change. DISA, FBI, and IRS are well on their way to achieving their mission goals with the help of their teams and the right software supporting their goals. To learn more about the HPE tools supporting IT agendas across government, click here. And to see the highlights of HPE Government Summit, check out the event hashtag at #HPEGovSummit.

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