Jun 18 2024

How CDW’s Strategic Application Modernization Assessment Is Helping Agencies

The tool allows federal IT leaders to review their entire app portfolio so they can update software quickly and cheaply.

Federal IT leaders looking to jump-start application modernization within their agencies should first conduct assessments of their app portfolios to create a game plan, according to Greg Peters, the founder of CDW’s own assessment.

Peters says automating such an assessment, as CDW’s Strategic Application Modernization Assessment does, further speeds up modernization efforts.

Embracing app assessments is critical with only 27 percent of organizations modernizing mission-critical apps and related data and systems, despite 83 percent of IT leaders acknowledging the importance of these efforts, according to a 2023 report from IBM.

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Conducting a Unique App Assessment

It’s critical that agencies conduct a holistic assessment, one that looks not only at the technology but also at whether the organization has the staffing and resources to maintain certain apps, Peters says.

SAMA is designed to approach the modernization process by breaking down silos between different elements of an organization including developers, security teams and network engineers.

How does it work? SAMA essentially monitors an agency’s entire app portfolio and then identifies which items are prime for modernization tasks — and it’s all done as an automated process so IT leaders can get a macro-level view into their software updates fast and affordably.

Peters compares the process to improving a car’s design, an undertaking that requires conversations with specialists in engines, electrical systems and braking systems.

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SAMA’s approach to app assessment involves gathering all the knowledge of relevant specialists, but doing so through built-in security scanning, custom reporting and analysis tools. This speeds up the assessment process by obviating the need for separate initial conversations with every team.

“We want to look at the portfolio instead of just one little piece of the puzzle,” Peters says.

The process begins with CDW engineers installing and configuring a virtual machine to run the SAMA tool in an agency’s environment. SAMA then gathers data from the agency’s code repositories, covering more than 40 languages as well as apps on mainframes or in the cloud.

All of this work is done on-premises for the agency, never remotely. SAMA then looks for tasks that have been completed around modernization by monitoring that changes were made in the app portfolio.

Greg Peters
Instead of spending millions and millions of dollars on manual analysis, they can use that money for actual modernization.”

Greg Peters Founder of CDW’s Strategic Application Modernization Assessment

Why Assessments Accelerate App Modernization

A typical manual assessment of an organization’s codebase can take roughly 12 to 18 months to do manually. However, with SAMA, IT leaders can get an automated assessment completed in just two to three weeks, depending on the portfolio size, Peters says.

SAMA scans apps’ metadata and source code only and does not scan databases or users on agency networks. The assessment gathers data, determines whether apps can run in the cloud and detects anomalies in code. It also evaluates the security level of each app.

Following the assessment, SAMA produces two automated reports. One has assessments of every app’s suitability for modernization. The other is an executive summary that has a heat map of the complexity of the portfolio, assessments on the personnel needed to support the apps, and other high-level findings.

This essentially gives IT leaders the “keys to the kingdom” so they can query all the data the assessment produced and get guidance on how to prioritize which apps to modernize, based on the agency’s mission, Peters says.

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After the assessment, organizations typically decide to modernize about 8 to 10 percent of their app portfolio, Peters says. Typically, CDW recommends IT teams prioritize either apps with major infrastructure or security issues or apps that are relatively easy to modernize.

The Perks of Assessing App Readiness

There are many benefits to using the SAMA approach to app modernization. For one, it helps IT leaders “get the information needed to make the decision faster than they could before,” Peters says.

The assessment can also provide a benchmark for IT leaders as they achieve more of their digital transformation goals. “Our clients continue using SAMA to monitor changes in their application portfolio as they modernize,” Peters says.

Ultimately, SAMA saves agencies significant costs, Peters says: “Instead of spending millions and millions of dollars on manual analysis, they can use that money for actual modernization. That’s the massive benefit they get from this process.”

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