Aug 24 2023

Why Federal Agencies Should Consider IT Environment Assessments Ahead of FY2024

Automated third-party evaluations can save both time and money.

When you’re adding onto your house, it’s critical that you and your contractors ensure the new second story blends with the original build. Can your current electrical service handle the additional load? Will your floor joists support the weight of the new structure?

You’d also have to calculate the cost of the items needed to build the addition and determine what you can afford that still works in the space. Vinyl floor planks or oak? Single-hung windows or double-hung? There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Such is also the case when federal agencies begin thinking about ways to modernize their IT infrastructure. Moving to the cloud is an appealing and often necessary proposition, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. Planning is key before making those first purchases that will enable cloud migration.

Now might be the perfect time to invest in a often-overlooked direction: a third-party technology assessment to determine your agency’s exact needs. Such a project will make it simpler to plan spending for fiscal year 2024.

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Technology Assessments Can Keep Projects to a Manageable Scale

A technology assessment provides a baseline against which an agency can decide how to proceed with a project. It’s something that an agency can do itself — the Government Accountability Office has even created a technology assessment design handbook to help with the process.

But DIY assessments aren’t always the most efficient or least expensive. When an agency is in the market for, say, a standard cloud migration project, staffers usually begin with a request for information which brings in suggestions from integrators, vendors and others on how the project could be done.

Then they’ll have to assess, gathering information in-house from analysts, security experts, IT administrators, project managers and more. Turnover within an agency can hinder this process because newer employees may not have the information necessary to provide background quickly.

This multilayered process can take as long as 12 to 18 months and cost as much as $1 million to $2 million to put together. At the same time, the typical government IT employee must continue to keep the lights on and systems running. Few have the time to keep up with the kind of information needed to conduct forward-thinking assessments.

Outside services such as CDW•G’s Amplified™ Infrastructure, however, allow agencies to scale projects more quickly and more cost-effectively. The key to delivering efficient and detailed technology assessments is in leveraging some level of automation. This enables delivery in a matter of weeks or a couple of months, at a cost of only tens of thousands of dollars instead of millions.

The automation and algorithmic tools that we use to evaluate the IT assets, applications, servers, storage and cloud resources that are being leveraged deliver the same value of insight as the in-house assessment. The agency reviews the results of an automated assessment and provides feedback on priorities, ensuring the human touch remains.

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Assessments Provide a Baseline for an Individual Project

Technology assessments aren’t a continuing process; they’re very project-specific. Say an agency is running 10 applications in its on-premises data center and wants to know if it would be cheaper to run them in the cloud instead.

The assessment would evaluate questions such as: What are the requirements for servers, databases and development management? How many developers are responsible for managing this and supporting it on-premises? How does that picture change if the apps are just lifted and shifted to the cloud?

But you’re asking these questions of developers who are most likely more skilled in on-premises tools development. To answer those questions, they’d also have to be savvy in cloud performance as well. When you’re aligning a whole new skill set with older technology, enlisting an outside vendor that already has those abilities can save time and money.

A third-party assessment can also talk down an agency from a project that is too big. You don’t necessarily want to migrate all of your HR functions to the cloud at once; maybe you should just start with onboarding.

This gives you a defined target and a controlled population of possible outcomes. In this deliberately limited space, an automated assessment can easily determine which applications can be moved, and move them.

And from that experience, you can see more easily what works and what doesn’t, and know what to do differently for the next migration — or use that entire process again, once more saving time and money.

This article is part of FedTech’s CapITal blog series.

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