Modernization initiatives push agencies to look inward at a daunting environment: interdependent processes, legacy systems and security vulnerabilities. Yet, the federal government understands that the future is in the cloud, and the Cloud First mandate reinforced its adoption. Despite significant obstacles, the outlook of government modernization is much brighter than it may seem.
Certainly, the challenges are no less real than imagined, but technology has adapted to provide multiple paths forward. The latitude that private and public clouds provide allows agencies to move their applications into an agile state. Adapting legacy systems to the cloud will set the stage for greater evolutions further down the line now that they are no longer completely hosted on-premises. Federal spending dedicated to updating and maintaining these platforms can be shifted to the next development already shaping federal and corporate workplaces: mobility.
Three best practices can ensure that a public sector agency will handle these smart devices and the cloud hand-in-hand.
- Automation: The concept of automation has existed for a century and is now making waves in the IT world. Using rules to set behaviors and responses can reduce much of the current manual labor tied up in patching networks. Automation enables time-saving features such as load balancing that reallocates resources to meet higher demands on the network.
- Virtual Desktop Infrastructure: Smartphones have taken the workplace into the world, and VDI allows the workplace to come to the federal employee. Employees can access their operating system from any computer, reducing traditional investments in hardware and office space – to start. The same practice provides greater accessibility to the end users. Citizens will access information and services within secure public clouds in the same fashion as federal employees will use their applications. VDI and hosted applications can strike the perfect balance between mobility and the cloud.
- Applications-as-a-Service: Agencies are growing more comfortable with the idea that an application does not have to live in any one place. With the application-as-a-service model, administrators pay for each user to access hosted services instead of buying the software and then installing, running, updating and maintaining it in-house. This new practice can significantly lower procurement costs and IT spend overall.
Thinking Beyond Legacy Systems and the Cloud
The old model lives on in the legacy stacks that draw much of the federal IT budget. These applications require lots of heavy-lifting on the part of the agency to recode systems that, in some cases, have existed for decades in outdated languages. Complicating the issue is the fact that almost all legacy tech is tiered to another application, so when an IT team attempts to forklift that platform into the cloud, they need to transition all related software in the same process.
Technology is not just a trend in itself, but a dialogue between the software and the people who use it. The cloud wouldn’t matter to anyone if users hadn’t gotten behind it–same with the smartphone. Legacy systems were once cutting edge, and the next challenge will become predicting evolutions in tech before they pass agencies by. The federal government has made positive steps toward mobility and hosted applications, but it must remain aware of developments beyond the cloud. That is the key to providing better service in a world of possibilities.