IT modernization funds are coming, and the chief information officers of federal agencies are figuring out how to take advantage of them, and how they can get the most bang for their buck. The Modernizing Government Technology Act hitched a ride with the National Defense Authorization Act to get passed into law in December. Meanwhile, in February’s fiscal 2019 budget request, the administration requested $210 million for the Technology Modernization Fund.
But agencies don’t always have a history of allocating that money where it will make the most difference. In 2015, the Government Accountability Office added “Improving the Management of IT Acquisitions and Operations” to its high-risk list. It reported that “agencies spent over $80 billion annually on IT investments, but over 75 percent of the $80 billion went towards operations and maintenance of legacy IT. Because there is an increasing amount of funding spent on legacy programs, less funding is available for development.”
So how can CIOs affect the most positive change with these new modernization funds?
Some agencies are turning to Red Hat for a portfolio that contains:
all the products required to migrate to the cloud;
consulting services with expertise assisting with cloud architecture and deployment, and application development and modernization; and
a container strategy that increases server utilization and application density, decreasing costs.
Red Hat’s tools are already being used in the Department of Defense; when an Air Force organization needed a cloud solution with an agile, automated framework and storage architecture, capable of handling a large volume of virtual machines, Radiance Technologies deployed a tailored solution using Red Hat Cloud Suite. They helped migrate the organization from its current network architecture to a scalable cloud infrastructure.
Red Hat Cloud Suite is designed to provide an end-to-end, deployment-ready offering for enterprise digital transformation. Cloud Infrastructure helps build and manage an open, private Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud, while CloudForms is a multicloud management platform that helps operations set up policy controlled, self-service environments for cloud users. It also detects and responds to environment changes by tracking activities, capturing events, and sensing configuration changes, allowing agencies to custom tailor users’ experiences on the back end.
There’s also OpenStack, which handles IaaS private cloud with more than the normal compute, storage, networking and provisioning capabilities. It also provides dynamic monitoring, data processing, orchestration tools and customizable dashboards to provide agencies with a more complete view.
Meanwhile, Red Hat’s Virtualization offers support for up to 480 logical CPUs and up to 6TB of memory per virtual machine, which can yield up to 95% to 140% performance gains for real-world enterprise workloads. And OpenShift, a container application platform, integrates the architecture, processes, platforms, and services for development and operations teams.
And then there’s the middleware, the software glue that connects the customer-facing applications on the front end to the agency users on the back end. Red Hat offers app servers, web servers, automation, and JBoss Fuse, a tool for transitions that facilitates various systems talking to each other.
But tools will only get agencies so far. Federal employees have to know how to use them, and federal managers have to know how to deploy them most effectively.
“The tools by themselves don’t solve the problems. The people and the process, using those tools, solve the problem. So bringing in Red Hat Consulting to teach your people the processes to use the tools to solve their modernization problem, that’s what we do,” said Ian Tewksbury, a Red Hat architect. “Anyone who’s coming in and say ‘we have the tool that’s going to solve all your problems,’ he’s selling you snake oil.”
Red Hat offers consulting services to help agencies learn the best, most effective way to use Red Hat’s tools to solve the challenges they face.
They’ve seen these challenges so frequently, they’ve narrowed them down to certain standardized common patterns. Each one begins with a discovery session, where Red Hat sends out a couple of service delivery people to the client. Red Hat Consultants go over their client’s business problems and help map them out, offer potential solutions, and tailor product recommendations for their needs.
After the discovery session, a team made of consultants and architects come back to work with the client to implement the plan.
One of the standard offerings they have is a 12-week container adoption pilot that creates a minimum viable solution. It includes frequently mentoring on subjects beyond just the technology, like agile processes and best practices. And then there’s the Container Adoption Program, which is ideally an 18-month program where consultants would embed with agency architects to help form a community of excellence that runs multiple iterations of the 12-week pilot while adding additional functionality.
Red Hat doesn’t just tutor employees on how to use their tools; they offer support and introduce industry best practices and standards for technology and processes. They don’t just help agencies solve the challenges they face; they anticipate challenges that may arise as the modernization process progresses, mapping out growing pains and potential solutions.