U.S. federal government agencies have made a concerted effort to stay on top of digital transformation projects, given the rapid pace of IT evolution. But when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and stay-at-home orders were put in place, the need for digital transformation solutions and the ability to implement them immediately became an imperative.
“I think all of us could say that in government, IT has been the difference between keeping an agency going to provide mission-essential services or falling behind,” said Nancy Sieger, Chief Information Officer at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). “The undeniable truth about today’s world is that we’re more virtual, more connected, and more dependent on technology than we’ve ever been before.”
Federal agencies have evolved to meet the challenges introduced by the pandemic, such as access to government services. The Social Security Administration made several updates to their website, which will allow citizens to upload and sign documents or forms online, without having to go into a physical office.
Another change brought on by the pandemic was an increase in government employees working from home. In order to ensure security and seamless-connectivity, agencies like the Department of Defense have invested in cloud-based services and secure data storage solutions.
Changes like these provide scalability, improved essential services, and enhanced communication abilities. Change, however, does not come without its fair share of obstacles.
One of the most challenging problems faced by government agencies is the length of time between acquisition and deployment. Because of the typically lengthy acquisition process, the technology has oftentimes become obsolete by the time agencies acquire these modernized solutions.
Nick Psaki, Principal Technology Strategist at Pure Storage, explained how the company is trying to address this endless cycle of technology debt that is breaking the backs of government agencies. “We are trying to create a boundaryless infrastructure by moving data seamlessly so that agencies can focus on their mission and their activities and not maintenance… [We’ve given] them assurance that whatever they want to do in the future is already inherently in the system, or will be in the system, and implemented without any disruption and without increasing cost.”
In a recent conversation with federal technology leaders, Psaki explained how some agencies have been able to overcome these challenges and have been able to drive modernization efforts quickly, not just to alleviate the pressures of the pandemic, but also enabling agencies to scale at speed to deliver seamlessly on an ever-more complex mission.
“We are working diligently to address the need for higher storage capacity and increasing the speeds at which that data can be leveraged,” said Psaki. “We are extending the scale to address growth and data [while also] improving the user experience to make the underlying technology invisible and then the acquisition model to make it easy for customers to adopt and sustain a modern data infrastructure.”
The pandemic underscored the inherent need for government agencies to be able to share and use data seamlessly and securely. But this is only the beginning of what next-generation data storage can do. Secure, shared data management creates an invisible connection that empowers government employees to make better decisions, move information faster, and deliver on the mission more efficiently and effectively.
“Technology is an enabler for greater capacity and better security,” said Psaki. “[Modernized systems] also provide better connectivity to new and evolving IT architecture applications.”
As federal agencies continue their modernization journeys, the ability to be flexible and adaptable is key. This not only applies to acquisition capabilities, but the technology itself. With federal agencies becoming increasingly data-driven, a modern data infrastructure is the foundation of mission success.
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