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Straight Talk IT

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Last month, the House of Representatives passed the Modernizing Government Technology Act. Should the act receive Senate approval, agencies would be able to access a $500m central fund to support IT modernization. It will be tempting for agencies to rush to secure funding for specific projects aimed at shifting legacy services to the cloud. However, they would be better placed taking a strategic view to adopting cloud services.

The use of cloud has been growing steadily across government agencies, and it is often viewed as a magic pill to cure all the ills of procuring and implementing IT across government. To date, agencies have taken a piecemeal approach, adopting cloud in response to individual projects. This has led to an increasingly complex estate to manage and has often been driven by tactical rather than strategic decision-making. This is a challenge for agencies and can lead to lost savings, because it is unlikely the agency will optimize its mix of services as managing resources becomes increasingly opaque and issues of interoperability resurface.

Nowhere is this truer than in the case of systems linked to business process. Legacy systems and processes that draw information from multiple systems make it harder to act on problems in real time. If these challenges go unaddressed, then they have the potential to derail CIOs' attempts to modernize agencies' IT.

One way to avoid this would be for CIOs to make strategic choices about adopting cloud platforms on which they can run multiple applications and services. By taking a strategic approach to cloud, CIOs can avoid unnecessary procurement, and by adopting specific clouds to run certain processes, they can push the reuse of standard modules. They can also help to reduce the need to support a range of computing languages, especially for legacy services, and build interoperability through the use of cloud providers' ecosystems, enabling teams to work in a more colligate manner. The best-performing platforms increasingly offer CIOs the same enterprise-grade cloud services as they receive through existing agreements with these added benefits.

Before CIOs jump in feet first, there are several factors that need to be considered when adopting this approach. These revolve around cost, usage demands, and security, and can be better understood using tools such as Ovum's Cloud Economics Self-Assessment Model, which enables organizations to obtain a high-level overview of how ready workloads are to migrate to the cloud. The outcomes should be used to help steer a longer-term view of the use of cloud platforms to support agencies.

Straight Talk is a weekly briefing from the desk of the Chief Research Officer. To receive this newsletter by email, please contact us.

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