Jul 28 2009

The Value of Change

Creating change is neither quick nor easy. Even the best idea needs time to gain acceptance before any actions can be taken.

In federal IT, this is true of the adoption of virtualization. A recent CDW•G survey of 377 federal IT managers shows that although 73 percent say virtualization is an important part of improving operating efficiencies and cutting costs, only 20 percent of those agencies are taking full advantage of the technology.

The 2009 Federal Virtualization Report also reveals that 59 percent of federal agencies have implemented server virtualization, 51 percent are using storage virtualization and 49 percent are using client or desktop virtualization. Some of the benefits the IT managers cite include reduced operating costs, improved continuity of operations and improved network security.

Yet while the majority of respondents say they have begun some level of virtualization, only 50 percent say their implementations have been successful. Respondents list front-end funding as the biggest obstacle to greater success.

Even so, some agencies are on the virtualization frontier. The 45th Space Communications Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base, for instance, is among the few organizations worldwide that have begun virtualizing Microsoft Exchange servers. It, like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., expects the move will further reduce server footprint and ease systems management. To learn more about Exchange virtualization and why it is less challenging now, click on “ ‘It’s in the Mail.’ ”

Ahead of the Curve

The Air Force and FDIC are not alone. The government has forerunners using many of the latest technologies and cutting-edge techniques. In this issue of FedTech, we spotlight several examples:

Tablet PCs for training: Although tablets have been accepted in pockets of higher education, the most extensive use has been in science courses and college labs. But at the U.S. Air Force Academy, tablets will be issued to all cadets this fall — the fourth incoming class to use them for all their coursework.

While it’s crucial to make sure you procure systems that are durable and that you plan for security accordingly, convertible tablet PCs offer a platform that’s as useful for writing reports as for doing long-form equations and charts, says academy CIO Richard Mock. For more on the tablet PC program, read “To Each, His or Her Own.


Agencies that report having rolled out some type of virtualization


2009 Federal Virtualization Report, CDW•G

Healthcare IT: The government can go head to head with private healthcare organizations when it comes to bringing IT close to the point of care — the patient. On scale alone, it’s serving the most patients.

At the Veterans Affairs Department, where doctors have had some form of electronic health information for nearly a decade, the move now is to push data sharing even further, providing devices to patients who can send data back to their healthcare providers.

“We’ve been able to intervene in a more timely manner, and we’ve definitely decreased the number of patient trips to the primary care doctor and to the emergency room,” says Rose Buckle, nurse manager for the Phoenix VA Medical Center’s telehealth program.

As Gartner analyst Barry Runyon notes, “The point of care used to be in a formal setting like a hospital, but now because of innovations in technology, the point of care could almost be anywhere.” For more about these point-of-care efforts, see “Bedside IT.”

Telework hoteling: One of the benefits of telework is being able to reduce overhead by reducing real estate. Through hoteling, the return on investment can add up quickly: IBM reports saving $56 million a year by doing away with 2 million square feet of office space nationwide; Merrill Lynch says it saves about $5,000 for each office space eliminated; and Georgia Power reports saving $100,000 annually.

In the government, only a few agencies are on this forward edge. For more about federal hoteling programs, read “Net Gain.”

Ryan Petersen