Insight by Ingram Micro

Despite challenges driven by global crises, technology advances are poised to help agencies drive change

Federal News Network sat down with two industry technology experts to get their take: Tony Celeste, executive director and general manager for public sector at ...

Shape

Bolstering resiliency and overcoming supply chain challenges

The last mile, when we’re looking at the mission segment of the mission space, is literally the most critical element.

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Ready for radical evolution: 5G, software-defined everything, zero trust and more

Coming out of the pandemic, and being forced to quickly move into a telework or a hybrid work environment, accelerated things [agencies] never thought they were going to ever do or need to do.

This is the first article in our series, The Power of Technology.

Digital transformation might be every government organization’s technology goal, but if the last two years have taught federal IT leaders anything about managing during ongoing crises, nothing — transformative or otherwise — can happen without resiliency.

Fresh off the depths of a global pandemic, agencies now are figuring out their hybrid return against the backdrop of a geopolitical crisis. What does that mean for agencies’ lines of business and for managing both administrative services and services to citizens?

Federal News Network sat down with two industry technology experts to get their take: Tony Celeste, executive director and general manager for public sector at Ingram Micro, and Cameron Chehreh, vice president and general manager for public sector worldwide at Intel.

What became clear as the government reinvented itself almost overnight at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chehreh said, is the criticality of that last mile. “The last mile, when we’re looking at the mission segment of the mission space, is literally the most critical element for all mission people — whether you’re a civil servant or a warfighter in the Defense Department or Defense space, or an operator in the community,” he said.

Now, as agencies look ahead, that last mile — computing at the edge and delivering services, as Chehreh said, “at the tip of the spear” — remains as the focus for many IT and management leaders in the government.

Chehreh and Celeste offered insights on three areas where they see government-industry collaboration and technology driving change and helping agencies deliver on their missions to help both users within agencies and citizens at the edge: supply chain, 5G and security.

IT at the edge Insight 1: Minimizing supply chain risks through collaboration

Supply chain hiccups have affected the government and its contractors just as direly as they have other industries.

“It’s been difficult without question,” Chehreh said. In addressing supply chain issues or hurdles, public-private relationships matter as does access to information, he and Celeste noted.

Addressing supply chain issues requires agencies and vendors to work together closely. Chehreh suggested that there needs to be a mechanism for agencies to forecast the technology that they may need to acquire so that vendors can pre-stage tech and services to anticipate dynamic mission demands.

“What this allows us is a healthy balance, leveraging the private sector in the exact way we need to do as a country and remain compliant with the Federal Acquisition Regulation,” he said.

Celeste further added that agencies need to review their distribution channels from end to end, all the way back to the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), to understand where there are risks and to ensure against introducing potential cybersecurity risks as well.

“Look at all of the components that are involved in building these solutions,” he advised. “From a technological perspective, the government needs to encourage more innovation through competition. It needs to continue to adopt and leverage open standards that have multiple solutions and sources for those solutions.”

IT at the edge Insight 2: Embracing the opportunities that 5G can enable

The arrival of new technologies also have the potential to help the government advance its mission capabilities, Celeste and Chehreh said.

In particular, the advent of 5G networking technology will create opportunities to radically change how agencies work, Chehreh said.

“When you look at the difference between 4G and 5G, it’s really all about the software-defined nature of the delivery,” he said. Chehreh said he expects 5G to usher in a new era of innovation across government as organizations reimagine about how they compute and how they manage data to provide richer experiences for users at the edge.

As an example, he pointed to the work by the Army Futures Command on the Next Generation Combat Vehicle. “It’s extraordinary to think now that vehicle can be a 5G portable cloud while it’s also operating in its mission setting, being able to safely and securely admit what’s necessary from a command and control perspective while in theater, but do it in a highly secure manner for that dismounted soldier. Those are extraordinary use cases where that software workload can be enabled on that vehicle.”

There’s just as much potential for back-office functions to be enhanced as well, Celeste added.

“Coming out of the pandemic, and being forced to quickly move into a telework or a hybrid cloud work environment, accelerated things [agencies] never thought they were going to ever do or need to do,” he said.

The effect has been transformational and sped up the development of capabilities that take advantage of things like 5G, Celeste said. “We’re seeing this

play out in case studies, from the really cool and really complex hard stuff — like the tactical edge that our warfighters are up against — to the sort of mundane everyday operations of keeping the lights on.”

IT at the edge Insight 3: Evolving how the government tackles cybersecurity

As technology use expands at the edge, so do the cybersecurity challenges.

“Today, everybody is looking at cybersecurity,” Celeste said. “As our dependency on technology for everyday life continues to grow exponentially, the threat attack surface area grows, and this is no different for the federal government.”

Chehreh said he sees the adoption and work on zero trust across government as encouraging despite the increase in threats.

“For the longest time, the conventional thinking in cyber, although we talked a lot as an industry about built-in versus bolted on, the practical reality was that bolted on seemed to rule the day,” he said.

Chehreh views the pandemic as playing a role in advancing cyber thinking too. “There’s been a positive effect that’s come out of that strained or even dark environment that the pandemic provided,” he said. “When we think of zero trust, it’s transformed our thinking to allow us to truly do this built in.”

Admittedly, there’s no silver bullet or single product, Chehreh said. But the adoption of this approach

to cyber finally brings together mission users, business users and nontechnical users in a way that will let agencies understand and address “the interlock points from a zero trust perspective” to create more secure environments, he said.

To read more articles in The Power of Technology series, click here.

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  • Cameron Chehreh

    Vice President and General Manager for Public Sector Worldwide, Intel

  • Tony Celeste

    Executive Director and General Manager, Public Sector, Ingram Micro

  • Vanessa Roberts

    Editor, Custom Content, Federal News Network and WTOP