Category: Government

Why Technology Modernization?

73% of IT leaders believe that centralized/integrated technology systems must be a priority.

Economic activities are taking place digitally constituting great challenges for the IT department. The IT department has to not only oversee the daily computer operations, monitoring of communications and networks, keeping up with compliances etc., but work toward transformation and innovation too. For the same reason, IT modernization is slowly taking precedence for business and IT leaders to meet their business goals and keep ahead of the competition.

Why IT Modernization important:

With frequent changes in technology, the systems need to be changed/upgraded too. Systems that tend to just keep up, can be vulnerable and left behind fast. The need for IT modernization or integration of systems is for achieving goals, reducing costs, improving performance and operational efficiencies. With startups releasing products and applications with newer features in the market at a greater speed, it is no wonder that larger businesses and their business leaders have felt the need to push the efforts towards IT modernization and drive their businesses with agility, security, and efficacy.

Here are a few reasons which back IT modernization:

Efficiency: If IT infrastructure/data is decentralized, it is difficult to track, protect, supervise and manage. Cloud implies cost-effectiveness, innovation, and speed; hence must be integrated with the IT infrastructure augmenting connectivity and access. Integration of cloud in the IT infrastructure can readily ensue via the Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) while keeping security and efficacy intact. Through iPaaS, data can move securely and faster. This allows employees to concentrate, anticipate and solve issues with clarity due to them having operational recognition and control. It is advised to develop a data management strategy.

Security: It is vital to have complete control and visibility of data within the IT infrastructure. The movement of data within and outside the organization’s network and its usage by employees determine decisions. In decentralized structures, it is difficult to secure data leading to non-compliance at times.

Agility: The existing infrastructure must handle a responsive organizational environment. Data transfers must be speedy and efficient in organizations so they can stand out from competitors. In an enterprise data management strategy, a robust but flexible infrastructure is the key to working swiftly.

IT Modernization Steps

IT modernization includes a gamut of strategies such as planning, alignment with goals, and understanding loopholes while having a partner to make it a reality.

Assemble and modernize: It is imperative for organizations to take inventory of their applications and the infrastructure associated with it. Mobile users access data from anywhere at any time, and also generate data, hence organizations must deploy software-defined infrastructure and comprise a data center infrastructure to scale up.

Automate: Updating application infrastructure is a vital step in modernization. Manual steps which can stifle growth and increase delays/errors must be replaced with automation. Compliances must be followed with respect to provisioning, distribution, and scheduling. In this process, APIs must be mapped to pre-defined policies; and automatic allocation must occur in resources, tracking utilization etc. while ensuring standard repeatable processes.

Measure and examine: System parameters must be identified which can be used and metrics which should be monitored and reported. Through repeated monitoring of these metrics, deviations can be identified, vulnerabilities understood and rectified before any errors occur. These metrics ensure that the infrastructure and applications run smoothly adding to productivity. Proactive log analytics assists in determining issues which help the team in responding to failures before they occur.

Audits: When tools, technologies, and systems are introduced in the organization, audits are required. They are a must for security procedures, data lifecycle (available and recoverable at all times with minimal losses), and data governance. Modern data centers improve systems availability while lowering costs.

IT modernization’s implementation must be in phases with a partner – identification of new teams, technology, and new processes. Once successful, these services can then be scaled along with other new initiatives, and measurable benefits be gained.

Government’s Benefits From IT Modernization

75-80% of IT budget is spent on operations and maintenance, leaving very little room for innovation and modernization. The need is to push for modernization. Outdated infrastructure also gives the government a negative perception from its citizens. Hence, digital services must be enhanced while keeping costs low for citizens, for the services provided.
The federal government must invest in new applications/services for its citizens by using the latest technology. Using big data and analytics – programs in public safety, justice, reducing cybercrime, disaster response improvement, or streamlining other processes can be supported by an effective government. Automation through the artificial intelligence of simple questions can allow the agency employees to focus on other complicated matters.

So how can the government provide highly agile, secure and flexible services through a robust infrastructure? While data can assist in taking decisions, cloud can be used for focusing on mission related decisions. Agencies must move the applications to cloud (using DevOps and agile methodologies). Also, through application modernization, codes can be re-hosted, new programs developed, and agile development to join dissimilar systems together. APIs can be used and applied to data sets to assist in new development. These systems will ensure that needs of the citizens are met faster in conjunction with safety, while providing high quality of goods and services.

The Modernizing Government Act (MGT), passed by the bill is waiting for consideration from the Senate. “It would place $250 million fund managed by the General Services Administration and overseen by the Office of Management and Budget, that agencies can tap into for modernization for projects with cybersecurity challenges, can move to other shared services or are expensive to maintain.” It is time the government works with private partners to begin transformation, improve services and efficiencies.

Listen to a few leaders speaking on IT modernization in the federal government:
https://federalnewsradio.com/sponsored-content/2017/09/jumpstarting-it-modernization-in-government/slide/1/

Sources:
https://gcn.com/articles/2017/04/10/it-modernization-taxonomy.aspx

https://www.globalscape.com/blog/why-it-modernization-important

https://www.itbusinessedge.com/slideshows/5-tips-to-successfully-plan-for-it-modernization-02.html

https://fcw.com/articles/2017/07/06/comment-paul-it-modernization.aspx

Breaking Down A Monolithic Application: Microservices vs. Self-Contained Systems

In modern architecture, monolithic architecture and applications have become a thing of the past, and every organization is moving forward to break them down. After all, moving away from monoliths is a logical decision since its more complicated and there are also many dependencies and issues with deployment and testing.

For most developers, microservices seem like the most obvious solution to replace monoliths. But in this article, we will be discussing how self-contained systems can also be a successful option for breaking down monoliths.

Microservices

One of the most obvious benefits of microservices is that it allows users to do continuous deployment and change, debug, or replace a part of the application without affecting the rest of the application. Using microservices architecture means, if anything goes wrong in a part of the application, it is contained in that very part, and the rest of the application continues to work without a glitch.

However great microservices may sound, transforming a monolith into microservices architecture is easier said than done. Depending on the size of the monolithic core, it can take a few months to years, just to convert a monolithic core into multiple microservices.

Pros

  •     Maintaining microservices is comparatively much easier because each one of them has its own purpose and built with a laser-like focus on that very purpose. It also allows developers to jump in and out of microservices quickly. They are easy to run and quick to deploy.
  •     Since all the microservices in an application are isolated from each other, if one part fails, it does not affect the other and does not lead to downtime. For instance, even if the microservice that handles adding new orders is down, your customers would still be able to check the status of their existing orders.

Cons

  •     Every application may have hundreds of microservices, making them operationally complex. Developers cannot manage it all at once on the same server or deploy them one by one. Instead, they will require automation to handle everything.
  •     Communicating messages from one microservice to another takes a lot of effort because developers need to make sure the data is transferred sensibly and consistently. More often than not, you will have to create a new microservice to handle transfer and authentication of data.

Even with those cons, microservices are still preferred over monoliths. The initial time taken to break down a monolith into microservices may be a lot but after that, what you get is an easy to manage architecture.

Though, if the initial costs and time for creating microservices is a lot for your organization and handling monolithic applications has become incredibly complicated, you might want to consider the self-contained system as an option.

Self-Contained System

Self-Contained Systems (SCS) are similar to microservices in the way that they allow you to breakdown a monolith into smaller and independent parts. But, there are many differences between SCS and microservices:

  •     In SCS, you break a monolith down into replaceable and autonomous web applications, which isn’t the case with microservices
  •     The SCS units are within software and larger than microservices
  •     SCSs have their own autonomous user interface (UI), data storage, and business logic, making them more customizable than microservices
  •     While API level integration of SCS is possible, UI level is a more preferred integration

Since SCS is bigger than microservices, when you break down a monolith, creating SCSs takes much lesser time than microservices. Instead of being a complete redesign, SCS makes an application more agile by dividing it into small steps to reduce chances of failure.

Pros

  •     One of the biggest advantages of a self-contained system is that you can build several SCS units, each with different databases and languages.
  •     With monolith broken down, you can easily handle the coding and deployment of the application. Since the data is internal, you do not need to worry about how messages get passed from one SCS unit to another.

Cons

The line between SCS and microservice does exist, but it is slightly blurry, which means, it can be difficult for you to define an SCS architecturally. There is a lot more planning that goes into it before you can begin to break a monolith down into a self-contained system

Choosing Between Microservices Vs Self-Contained Systems

If you want to break down a monolithic and your end goal is microservices, you could still start with a self-contained system and then move towards microservices. Though you have to be patient while breaking down SCS units to make your software more agile.

As mentioned above, planning is more important than ever otherwise you might end up with SCS units that get bulkier and bigger with time. If that does happen, you will have to start breaking them into microservices.