Jun 20 2024

So You Have Technical Debt? Get in Line.

Adopting a cloud-agnostic approach to applications can jump-start an IT modernization effort.

Many agencies are at a tipping point when it comes to technical debt. Vendors simply can’t support legacy hardware anymore, and agencies need a cloud alternative while planning the effort to modernize their applications.

Where is technical debt bogging down federal IT, and how can agencies pivot? Many find it’s becoming harder to deal with outdated IT as the rate of technological innovation increases.

Agencies need to keep moving toward software- and app-driven ecosystems, but they’re saddled with infrastructure built when the IT environment was mostly driven by hardware.

There’s technical debt on the coding side as well. Many agencies have apps written in specific languages that aren’t cloud native, and recent tech industry mergers have them feeling handcuffed.

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Even when agencies begin modernizing their outdated hardware and apps, most find it isn’t just about the technology. It’s about the culture, addressing employees’ fears about the impact modernized solutions will have on their jobs.

Despite the hurdles, no agency can afford to remain stagnant.

Developing Cloud-Native, Cloud-Agnostic Applications

Agencies start to move forward by identifying a cloud alternative. This means adopting a software-defined approach to IT infrastructure and then building with an eye toward cloud-native apps.

As IT teams undertake this effort, it’s important they not be tied to a single cloud provider to avoid incurring more technical debt down the line.

Instead, IT teams should develop processes that support agnostic app development with outputs that aren’t tethered to a particular cloud or hyperscaler. Teams should build with application programming interfaces so that apps run seamlessly with any cloud provider or multicloud environment.

The Department of Defense has an opportunity to steer in this direction as it finalizes its IT budget in the coming months. In my conversations with DOD’s IT leaders, I’ve seen a focus, quite rightly, on the application layer. The department is looking at how to make its apps cloud-native and make more and better use of the cloud.

The path to better workflows starts here


Vendors Can Help Agencies Assess the State of Their Apps

In the short term, some agencies may opt for a lift-and-shift approach to cloud migration. While that’s not always the best financial move, it can be an expedient way to jump-start modernization when faced with the looming loss of data center resources.

More broadly, most agencies will want to look at the application stack, refactoring apps to be cloud agnostic. This, in turn, will empower them to tackle technical debt around hardware as they optimize that stack relative to their cloud use.

An effective transition requires agencies to know what they have in terms of hardware, apps, dependencies and complexities within their current ecosystem. Agencies can gather this information internally and can also look to outside providers for support.

CDW Government can help drive the process forward while alleviating some of the stress. Our workshops, assessments and deep understanding of industry best practices can assist IT leaders with demonstrating the value of modernization, implementing an agile approach and tackling technical debt in small, manageable steps.

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

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