IT Modernization and the Benefits of Cloud Collaboration Systems

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Efforts to updates systems will also transform how employees will work.

As part of its IT modernization strategy, the Trump administration is making the use of commercial cloud services a top priority.

The Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization, issued by the American Technology Council, calls for agencies to move to commercial cloud services wherever possible—part of a “cut and invest” strategy that reallocates funding associated with maintaining legacy systems to more modern technologies, cloud solutions and shared services. To meet these requirements, agencies need to identify the upgrades that will enable them to modernize their networks quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.

Freeing up funds that are currently consumed by legacy systems can have a major impact. Today, it’s estimated that 80 percent of government IT budgets go to maintaining legacy systems, many of which are “decades old.”

How can agencies address this inefficiency quickly? Migrating their email systems to the cloud is one popular approach, serving as a “low-hanging fruit” for government IT managers looking to pursue a path toward cloud-based services. With it being a logical candidate to move into the cloud, many government agencies have already performed email migrations and are using cloud-based systems today. In addition to email, collaboration systems meet the criteria for migrations—low-cost, quick and efficient—making it another ideal candidate for governments to upgrade, particularly those agencies who have already migrated their email systems. Behind email, collaboration is the second most common cloud workload.

Without completely disrupting their operations and uprooting their entire annual budget, a government agency can work toward IT modernization objectives with a simple upgrade to their collaboration systems. While the investment is minimal, the result of such an upgrade can have a major impact for a government agency, providing a number of benefits, including:

Efficiency and Cost Savings

Upgrading collaboration systems does not require a major overhaul of equipment, in fact, agencies can repurpose their existing hardware.  Additionally, the cloud model offers the financial advantage of a fixed monthly rate based on user count. Agencies can virtually eliminate unnecessary spend while enabling a scalable model that allows them to spin up or down in terms of users as needed.  

Modern Technology

With a cloud-based system, the latest collaboration technology is always at the users’ fingertips. Upgrades and maintenance are included, so the burden doesn’t lie with internal technology staff, who can instead focus more on other strategic, or mission-critical, initiatives. Even better, every communication tool that users require is integrated in one, cohesive solution. IM, presence, voice, audio/video conferencing and many other applications are included, working together in a single platform that offers a unified experience. This represents a quick and easy method to start transitioning away from burdensome legacy infrastructure.

Workforce Transformation 

IT modernization efforts are aimed at more than just agency operations. There are also efforts to improve how agencies work. With a cloud-based collaboration system, agencies can enable workforce transformation initiatives including bring your own device, mobility and remote work. If partnered with a secure cloud provider, agencies will do so with the peace of mind that they have deployed a secure infrastructure, no matter when or where their employees connect.

Additionally, adoption of cloud-based collaboration can help address another challenge facing agencies today—the aging workforce. With more than a quarter of federal workers falling in the 55-plus age range, many government agencies strive to implement workforce transformation practices, which may help recruit the next-generation of federal workers. This will also help to address the knowledge management issue that will soon plague agencies as this workforce retires. These individuals have the background required to operate and maintain current legacy systems so as they leave, that knowledge is walking out the door, adding risk to the agency’s environment. By eliminating on-premises legacy applications and systems, agencies can significantly reduce that risk.

Shared Services

A cloud collaboration model for agency communications can serve as the spearhead to meet two main areas included in the modernization plan: 1) modernization and consolidation of networks, and 2) the use of shared services to enable future network architectures. Cloud collaboration capabilities enable agencies to take advantage of more modern technologies as it does not require upfront costs associated with procuring the actual infrastructure. Taking that a step further, it allows agencies to retire its current legacy communications infrastructure to help meet consolidation and cost savings requirements.

This type of model can also help transition agencies to a shared services approach, a major priority coming down from the administration. By pursuing an as a Service model, the government can consolidate network acquisitions and management – another key component in the plan – to take full advantage of the benefits afforded by shared services.

Next Steps

While the mandates outlined by the Modernizing Government Technology Act and the American Technology Council may seem time-intensive, agencies can make major headway with a few simple cloud migrations. As stated earlier, agencies are looking to modernize their networks quickly with fast, efficient and cost-effective upgrades. One such approach is migrating collaboration workloads to the cloud with a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) platform. While this workload doesn’t carry with it the pain points associated with other cloud migration projects, such as cost, time and the need to overhaul existing equipment, the gains are significant and immediate. With many agencies already utilizing cloud-based email, it’s likely that many will follow suit with plans to migrate their communication and collaboration systems to the cloud. This should be the next wave of modernization efforts across government.

Steven Boberski is the vice president of business development for collab9.