Moving Government to the 3rd Platform

There’s a lot being asked of our government customers of late. They’re being asked not only to sustain, or even expand, what IT does for U.S. government agencies – they’re being asked to do so in one of the most challenging budget environments we’ve seen following the significant cuts due to the implementation of sequestration budget measures. Though it may seem that government customers must choose between two seemingly divergent needs of cutting budgets while expanding what IT infrastructures are asked to support, in a study Dell commissioned from IDC Government Insights – IDC found that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case.

According to the IDC study, by leveraging more powerful IT platforms, government IT professionals can increase the productivity and effectiveness of their organizations. Through what the study refers to as “3rd Platform Technologies” that include cloud computing services, mobile devices, social business applications and analytics solutions for “Big Data” – government entities can continue to use IT as a tool to operate more effectively and efficiently while also using these advanced platforms to help them save money.

Making Government More Efficient with Enterprise IT - Dell 3rd Platform

The transition to 3rd Platform environments is in its early stages and has been a steady process for many public sector IT professionals. In a 2012 IDC poll of public sector IT professionals at the federal, state and local levels, the plurality of those polled stated that their organization would own their cloud environment, with over 24% stating it was somewhat or very likely. To this point, the most common infrastructure migrated to the cloud by government CIOs has been overall server capacity and IT management with applications development and deployment. Creating more storage capacity was cited further down on the list, leaving room for significant growth and development of their IT infrastructures as government CIOs gain trust and confidence in 3rd Platform technologies.

The shift government agencies are making to 3rd Platform technologies is the latest step in an overall evolution of IT IDC outlined as follows:

  • 1st Platform: This was the era of mainframes and terminals. It eventually grew to thousands of applications and millions of end users across all industries, including government, before giving way to the 2nd Platform era.
  • 2nd Platform: This was (and in many places still is) the era of client/server solutions. It started about 25 years ago, with economies of scale that brought computing to hundreds of millions of people with tens of thousands of different applications. This approach eventually expanded to include powerful PCs and Internet access, lowering the cost of computing and bringing computing to the masses.
  • 3rd Platform: This evolving current era represents a shift triggered by the rapid emergence of several key IT disrupters including the growth of mobile devices, the rise of quality cloud services, the availability of big data, analytics, and social business. The end-user community has grown to billions of users and, in some cases, things. The number of available applications has grown to millions, with new applications and services built on top of these 3rd Platform technologies — often in a mash-up type of environment. As part of this platform, an intelligent economy is evolving on top of the available applications and data. Among the more important factors that will help to determine the rate government customers adopt these platforms and technologies will be the relative security of these platforms and solutions.

Movement to 3rd Platform technologies for government customers has not only resulted in more effective operation of their IT environments, but has also helped many of the early adopter agencies to realize very positive return on investment (ROI). For instance, government agencies have estimated the adoption of cloud email will save around $1 million annually for every 7,500 users. There are many opportunities for savings like this to be realized through the adoption of more efficient IT platforms with 25% of the U.S. federal IT budget, nearly $20 billion, spent on systems that could easily be migrated to new IT platforms.

According to the IDC study, many government IT infrastructures and departments have a great deal of redundancy within their systems. Consolidating those older, inefficient systems has proven to be difficult for government IT professionals to this point due to technical limits and a general desire for local control of their IT infrastructure. Starting in 2010, the U.S. Chief Information Officer (CIO) began to put pressure on agencies to standardize and consolidate their systems as a part of a larger plan to reform federal IT. Since the launch of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative in 2010, among other initiatives announced then, increased budget pressure, especially following the implementation of sequestration measures required by the Budget Control Act of 2011, further emphasized the need for agencies to adopt 3rd Platform Technologies that help them “do more with less.”

Dell's Approach to Making Government IT More Efficient

So what does this mean for Dell’s government customers? Well the good news is we’ve been working very closely with our government partners to develop true end-to-end solutions that help them solve complex problems they face – and today there are none more significant than the incredible pressure they are under to meet quickly shrinking budgets. Whether through organic development or acquisitions, such as the acquisitions of companies like Wyse and Quest and other individual building blocks of this including Dell’s application development and transformation services as well as Dell’s managed services, we have put together a solution set that helps government customers quickly and easily transition to 3rd platform environments that will help them better accomplish their mission and save money. We’ve not only been ahead of this curve in helping our government customers to use IT as a tool to help them be more efficient and effective, we’ve made the commitment to expand our portfolio to ensure we’re not only able to offer our government customers what they need today – but also what they will need tomorrow.

About the Author: George Newstrom