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App Modernization Critical to IT Modernization
Upgrading outdated software applications that run IT is critical
Upgrading or replacing hardware and networks, moving to the cloud, and implementing zero trust usually get the spotlight when the subject of modernizing IT comes up. But upgrading outdated software applications that run IT is also a critical part of the process and can help speed modernization across an agency.
Outdated software is deeply embedded in government IT, supporting a myriad of applications.
Across the federal government, agencies spend 80 percent of their IT budgets to manage legacy systems, according to the GAO.
According to Brian McConnell, manager of federal software solutions at systems integrator CDW-G, a 2022 study by the Office of Management and Budget showed that the 10 most important software applications across federal agencies in the study cost $336 million per year to maintain.
Legacy applications can slow agencies’ abilities to adapt to the changing demands of the public, as well as interagency collaboration. They carry extreme operational overhead and software development gets bogged down because of manual upgrading processes that, in turn, lead to the inability to ship new features quickly and efficiently to customers, as well as adding higher management costs. Monolithic application design leads to performance bottlenecks, increased resource utilization and the inability to adopt scalable, cost-efficient cloud-native platforms or agile development patterns.
Upgrading or replacing software with modernized applications and automated app development can save agency CIOs more than money, said McConnell; it can save lives, especially if an agency has critical human assets in the field that rely on up-to-date apps.
Data has become the lifeblood of interagency exchange, with agencies wanting to share data as quickly and as transparently as possible. Interagency information exchange can be cumbersome, not integrated, and in some cases entirely manual, said McConnell. Modernized systems can streamline and automate information exchange for better citizen support, better mission effectiveness and better interagency cooperation.
“There are many situations where organizations are sending tapes from one data center to another because the types of interfaces are just not up-to-date,” said McConnell. “Having modernized applications brings about better data delivery, integration and management modernization strategies.”
Compliance with federal mandates, laws and regulations is also critical to IT modernization. Application modernization — which can automatically synchronize with changing rules, licensing, and other parameters — can make compliance much easier, said McConnell.
CDW-G can help agencies plan and implement an application modernization strategy, from assessing capabilities to implementing a platform tailored to needs, said McConnell.
“We use proprietary tooling with automation that simplifies and significantly shortens the assessment duration when collecting the important metrics for defining a modernization strategy,” said McConnell. “We’re able to rapidly assess and determine prioritization initiatives, dependencies, security vulnerabilities, personnel requirements, cost and time estimates, and many other metrics that can limit the time commitment from agency CIOs, IT managers, analysts, contractors and other related personnel, to quickly get decision-making information in the right hands.”
To create an effective modernization plan, agencies have traditionally taken a long journey that relies on analysis workshops, code reviews, developer and user interviews, and other techniques that generate a prioritized inventory of what systems and applications the agency needs to modernize. That process can take months, according to McConnell.
“Our efforts can generate the right information needed for a solid modernization strategy in hours or days, resulting in the same level of detail or more,” he said.
CDW-G’s assessment tool can also help agencies faced with decisions to replace, re-platform or re-engineer systems as part of a modernization plan, according to McConnell.
Some applications cannot be modernized for several reasons, he said. Reasons might include a third-party commercial product that is out of the customer’s control; an application that is shared with a number of other agencies or missions and cannot be updated; or an application that might leverage a “black box of customization” because no one knows its design and the developers are no longer around.
Application modernization is an important piece of an IT modernization strategy that allows agencies to keep pace with technological advancements and provide better, more efficient services to citizens and missions.
For agency IT leadership, application modernization can reduce serious exposure, security breaches, mission failure and exposure to risk by keeping software up to date. It can also offer better overall system agility and performance across the agency, as well as allow IT leadership to focus more on where to take the agency in the future, rather than having to manage the past.
For IT managers, modernized platforms can provide better uptime and supportability across the board. In turn, that can lead to a reduction in help tickets, as well as streamline and accelerate more automated operations. All these improvements can work together to provide higher productivity and better services for both agency employees and agency customers alike.
This content was produced by GovExec’s Studio 2G and made possible by our sponsor. The editorial staff of GovExec was not involved in its preparation.
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