Over the past five years, legacy modernization has been a hot topic in federal government IT discussions. Modernization makes application environments more efficient and responsive, and puts them in a stronger position to address new requirements and technology.
And federal agencies are especially poised to reap benefits and cost savings, which is why it was included in the 2010 25-point plan for IT reform (PDF).
Truth in numbers
The need for agencies to transform old, cumbersome systems, eliminate data silos, reduce redundancy and usher in new technology is an urgent one. The numbers are compelling. In June 2013, MeriTalk and VMware surveyed 152 federal IT leaders to determine what steps agencies are taking in that direction and what kind of benefits they have seen. Agencies are spending 79 percent of their IT budget, or an average of $62 billion annually, just to maintain legacy IT systems.
Moreover, a study called “The Federal Application Modernization Road Trip” (PDF) showed that:
- Nearly half of existing agency IT applications are based on legacy technologies in need of modernization.
- Four out of five decision-making IT executives say that mission-critical capabilities will be threatened if their agency does not modernize legacy applications.
- Only about half of all IT leaders say that department fully understands their agency’s application modernization goals.
Those leaders recognize that application modernization will to reduce waste and improve performance. So no matter the agency size or mission, modernization is a must for federal government. The status quo isn’t working. Here’s why:
- Complexity: So many of today’s application environments are redundant, patched and cobbled together, making those applications difficult to maintain. They’re even more difficult to upgrade because the more complex a system, the more difficult it is to add modern technology.
- Security: The first priority for agencies, legacy systems can’t keep up with changing threats, risks and compliance requirements. And temporary fixes simply add to the first problem — complexity.
- Cost: With so much money going toward maintenance, it’s difficult to invest in new technology that can truly transform things for employees and constituents. It’s a bit of a Catch-22, because that new technology can save money over its predecessors.
- Inadaptability: Aging systems are unable to support new technologies that can save money, add agility and make employees more productive – like cloud computing, mobility and virtualization. What’s more, the technology needed to maintain old systems and apps is being phased out.
No doubt, application modernization can be a daunting task. A project starts with an assessment and rationalization of IT environment and applications. At this point, stakeholder involvement is imperative, so that everyone knows what the project is and why it has to happen. Next, applications must be migrated from their rigid legacy environments to modern environments, taking advantage of things like today’s open standards including service-oriented architecture. And finally, employees must be trained on the new system, and the management phase begins.
The right vendor can help make the process as smooth as possible. Dell is a great place to start. This webinar discusses return on investment on a modernization project. You can also watch this video this video, or check out Dell’s Federal Government or Application Modernization sites.
This series examines the market trends in application modernization in a variety of industries and institutions.
- 1Efficiency drives K-12 IT modernization projects
- 2Legacy modernization helps healthcare move forward
- 3Application modernization is a top federal priority