Insight By VMware

Small agencies can be more nimble when modernizing IT, moving to the cloud

But like large agencies, small ones still have to be able to take advantage of the technologies like cloud and emerging ones like machine learning or robotics p...

There are more than 75 small and micro agencies across the government, and like many of the large, well known agencies, they face similar IT modernization challenges.

These agencies that range from a few people to a few hundred employees face both advantages and disadvantages of being small or micro organizations.

On one hand, many small agencies don’t necessarily have the money or people to do full scale IT modernization, forcing them to deal with legacy technology, which, of course, opens them up to cybersecurity risks.

On the other hand, small agencies can move more quickly with fewer approvals and, let’s say, lawyers mucking up the processes. And even a little money can go a long way to move to the cloud or upgrade cyber defenses.

One small agency CIO told me last year that his plan was to move to the cloud and stop spending on commodity technology.

At the same time, small and micro agencies don’t necessarily have the support, or important oversight, from the Office of Management and Budget or Congress because they are not spending tens or hundreds of millions of dollars on IT projects. That also is both a benefit and a hindrance to IT modernization.

Another small agency CIO said he was surprised after moving to a small agency from a large one because so many small or micro agencies fly below the radar when it comes to OMB policies and requirements.

But like large agencies, small ones still have to be able to take advantage of the technologies like cloud and emerging ones like machine learning or robotics process automation to modernize their services and improve their cyber postures.

IT Modernization Efforts

We have about 60 percent of our infrastructure in the cloud and we now are actively working on the remaining 40 [percent]. The first piece in the cloud is when we moved all of our e-mail services to Office 365. The second major piece is when we moved our financial processing system to a software-as-a-service offering so that was a large IT mass that now sits over, in our case, Oracle managed cloud services.


The Challenges of Small Agencies in IT Modernization

One of the big pushes we’ve seen for small, medium and large agencies is ensuring when they are doing agreements there has been a built in schedule for training. As new advents of new services become available, especially for those clients who are operating in some sort of hybrid environment, it’s great to train everyone today. But what does that workforce look like in two years? As long as there is a continue process of being able to bring training in, being able to take advantage of new services and how that is incorporated into the curriculum is the key.


Engagement with Smaller Agencies

One very good surprise that we had when we migrated to a new cloud provider is they had software-defined network implemented in their network. We moved one of our applications to the cloud and we did it so smoothly that no one noticed.

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  • Howard Spira

    CIO, Export-Import Bank of the U.S.

  • Benjamin Bergersen

    CIO, U.S. Trade and Development Agency

  • Bill Rowan

    Vice President, Federal Sales, VMware

  • Jason Miller

    Executive Editor, Federal News Network