Federal agencies are updating their IT infrastructures with the goal to better support improved operational efficiency, user productivity and digital services deployed to the public. For those who want to know about the technologies available to support digital transformation, Allen Hill is the man.
“Federal networks need to become agile and smart so information can move on demand without the human element having to make it happen,” Hill, the acting deputy assistant commissioner for Category Management at the General Services Administration, said on Federal Monthly Insights – Digital IT Modernization. “It’s a balancing act for agencies. Agencies have to trade off what they have to do to modernize because of limited budgets while they manage their costs of their operational mission.”
Hill talked about the success of small- and medium-sized agencies that have implemented some current capabilities, like the Small Business Administration, that has moved from MPLS to SD-WAN.
“Large agencies are not that simple,” he said on Federal Drive with Tom Temin. “Those organizations are much more difficult because they have infrastructures and applications that are diverse and complex.”
He acknowledged that from the outside, some people may question why aren’t agencies moving faster, but he insisted that’s easier said than done.
“At my previous agency, the journey to modernizing the infrastructure was a multi-year journey. When I left, there was still more to do,” Hill said. “That was a medium agency. We cannot sacrifice mission capabilities that support the public.”
He also addressed the outdated technology that still exists in the federal network, like how, in some cases, analog is still in use.
“Those types of technologies are still out there because of some of our older systems that still exist throughout the federal government,” he said. “That’s part of the balancing act agencies have to deal with is how do they take out some of that older technology that is not IT-based, that needs to be changed out in order to move.”
He said an agency that has some form of monitoring tool for a building which is analog based needs to be moved, and that takes a lot of time and planning. He also discussed what can be used now and what will be available years in the future.
“We talk about 5G for example and the capabilities,” he said. “But how many of those devices that are out there, that are really 5G, can really leverage the 5G technology? You still have to build out.”