State and local government (SLG) leaders have been on the road to IT modernization for more than a decade. First appearing on NASCIO’s State CIO Top Ten Priorities list in 2010, IT modernization has ranked a top-three priority every year since. For some organizations, the pandemic served as a catalyst for cloud adoption and as-a-service consumption models. For others, it halted legacy migrations in favor of more immediate mission needs.
As we start to look at the pandemic in the rear-view mirror, however, SLG leaders across the country are looking to further accelerate modernization to overcome some core challenges of legacy technologies and systems, including security vulnerabilities (52 percent), high operations and maintenance costs (42 percent), difficulty integration with new technologies (42 percent), and data integrity issues (37 percent), according to new research from MeriTalk.
Now, leaders seek technology solutions that properly outfit their organizations for the future by upgrading legacy systems, prioritizing modernization and encouraging collaboration.
Prioritizing the greatest risk
From ransomware attacks on school systems and hospitals to threats on critical infrastructure and government agencies, legacy systems are not only holding SLGs back but actively jeopardizing data security and citizen services. Eighty-three percent of SLG IT decision-makers say retaining legacy applications makes them more vulnerable to cyber threats. And nearly half (47 percent) had a modernization project fail in the past 12 months due to legacy systems—wasting taxpayer money.
With 96 percent of IT decision-makers believing critical infrastructures are at risk due to legacy systems, how long until those failures lead to catastrophe?
SLG leaders must act now, starting with systems that pose the most significant risk. As agencies look to invest in systems that prioritize data protection, no two agencies are alike. The key is to determine the most personalized data protection system to meet specific goals and outcomes.
Celebrate innovation and initiative
Despite clear modernization advantages, more than one in three SLG organizations (36 percent) say their leadership operates with an “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” approach to legacy systems. Unsurprisingly, these organizations are significantly more likely to have experienced a modernization project failure in the last 12 months.
Agency leaders need to take a front seat when it comes to initiatives like cloud modernization because reacting after a failure is not enough. While 55 percent of IT decision-makers feel well supported by their organization’s CIO, many do not. Instead, SLG leaders should look to create a culture that celebrates initiative and innovation, cemented with a top-down approach.
The future of virtual government depends on SLG leadership buy-in—and IT leaders can be change agents for their organizations when it comes to investing in the right cloud solutions.
stand in support
As state and local governments prepare to accelerate cloud modernization, even the most advanced organizations can’t modernize decades of legacy systems and applications alone.
Take hybrid cloud, for example, which can be difficult to manage. Cloud operations can get expensive, and IT leaders don’t have the proper sense of what processes can be localized, what data should be stored in the cloud, and what makes sense to transition to the cloud in the short and long term. In fact, 84 percent say they need more guidance from cloud service provider (CSP) experts, particularly when it comes to security and cloud management.
SLG leaders should work with trusted partners to share adoption advice, identify funding opportunities, expand security education, and leverage proven technologies like Software as a Service (SaaS) to modernize cybersecurity, process management and IT service operations.
Emergence of containers and Kubernetes
For state and local agencies, an integrated cloud strategy will allow them to leverage and utilize emerging technologies to improve operations, deliver on the mission, and evolve citizen service practices. With the move to digital, governments must streamline and accelerate technologies to deploy integrated cloud, hybrid, and multi-cloud architectures. By moving some workloads to the cloud while repatriating others to on-premises, the pairing of cloud with containerization becomes increasingly essential.
In fact, 62 percent of leaders believe that containers and Kubernetes will be important for their organization’s cloud efforts over the next five years. Containerization allows governments to operationalize and deploy applications faster and more securely—bringing a heightened drive for data management for enterprise-level assurance while operating in a fully packaged and portable environment. Containerization platforms speed up platform development, prevent cloud vendor lock-in, and improve management and security platforms. In addition, containers are all-encompassing enough to scale as the needs of an agency evolve.
It’s clear that containerization will become a large pillar of agency strategies in the future. And Kubernetes, an open-source platform for managing containerized workloads and services, will give public sector IT development teams the tools to modernize their applications, using containers and microservices to gain speed, agility and scale needed to deliver true value to citizens.
Through investing in right-sized, efficient storage systems and application containers, agencies can elevate their citizen service capabilities while addressing the critical areas of cyber protection, data management and digital services. The right IT infrastructure can support citizen service, access and collaboration across the agency.
While cloud adoption has been on the minds of government leaders for a few years, now is the time for state and local agencies to double down on the modernization approach best suited for their organizations to continue delivering efficient and effective citizen services. Through thoughtful upgrades of legacy systems, proactive modernization efforts and cross-agency collaboration, state and local governments will be armed with the technology, agility and scalability to better serve citizens for years to come.
Michael Wiseman is the vice president, public sector, Pure Storage, leading the sales team responsible for state, local and education customers in the United States. In his current role, Wiseman is responsible for developing a team to enable the transformation of how public sector customers protect, serve and educate their constituents by leveraging technology to connect, innovate and lead. Prior to joining Pure Storage, Wiseman spent 17 years at Cisco.