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It's not exactly front-page news that most state and local governments are sorely in need of top-to-bottom IT modernization. A tour of many a public sector data center tells the story:

  • Aging mainframes and pre-Ethernet connectivity.
  • Immense tower desktop PCs, some with slots for floppy disks.
  • Heavy CRT monitors and dot-matrix printers.
  • Worst of all, outdated and unsupported operating systems that are vulnerable to all kinds of security breaches.

Their need for a technology upgrade is beyond debate; all parties have understood the necessity and the benefits of infrastructure modernization, but some agencies have been slow to implement it, whether owing to budget constraints, interagency complexities or other reasons.

The events of 2020 have amplified the need for state and local government to modernize their aging infrastructure to enable them to respond to immediate issues such as processing a massive increase in unemployment claims or providing the technology needed for emergency response teams to address weather-related disasters. As a result, public agencies have been forced to make quick-fix changes to their IT environment and how they work as they adapt to new pandemic-related lockdown measures.

For example, we noted a surge in emergency procurements: VMware Cloud Foundation instances are on the rise. Organizations are purchasing enabling technology to support a suddenly huge remote workforce, and they're moving workloads and applications to the cloud.

This situation has brought a fresh awareness of the need for state and local governments to modernize their infrastructure -- and the will to act. Here are four compelling reasons for those entities to prioritize IT modernization as a "must-do" for 2021:

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1. Conserve budget dollars by creating a sensible hybrid cloud model. 

Some government entities moved too many applications and workloads to the cloud too quickly, when it would make more sense to keep them on-prem -- yet they still lacked the infrastructure to support them. By modernizing and developing a "Cloud Smart" data center strategy, state and local agencies can leverage the respective strengths of public cloud and on-prem in a sensible hybrid model that:

  • Costs significantly less than simply pushing everything to the cloud; organizations that did so are now facing huge service provider bills.
  • Handles today's compute-intensive workloads, as well as applications that support Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • Manages the storage and retrieval of immense volumes of data -- unemployment claims, for example -- without suffering slowdowns caused by bottlenecks.
  • Occupies a smaller physical footprint and consume less power.
  • Employs automation for easy scalability as appropriate.

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2. Enable modern security to thwart theft, fraud and malicious attacks.

State and local governments receive and store a wealth of highly sensitive information -- tax returns, bank records, criminal reports -- and the public entrusts them with their safekeeping. Keeping that information secure is absolutely critical. But, another downside to moving most or all apps to the cloud in a hurry: it presented those agencies with new security risks they might not have anticipated.

What's needed is a seamless, consistent way to secure data across cloud and on-prem alike; privileged information might exist in both places, but access to it can originate from anywhere. Agencies should adopt a holistic security model that requires identity verification for access to privileged resources regardless of whether it originates inside or outside the network. That security consciousness extends to meeting a range of compliance requirements that safeguard private personal data, from HIPAA guidelines to Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) databases and Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards.

Public sector organizations must step back and seriously revise the way they think about security. It's no longer a single firewall serving as a choke point to protect data -- instead, there needs to be authentication and other security protocols spread across the hybrid data center as part of the IT modernization process.

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3. Achieve greater efficiency by adopting modern technologies.

State and local government IT organizations experiencing an infrastructure refresh might feel as if they've been transported into the future by the advances in modern technology. IT modernization delivers a dramatic spike in overall efficiency through consolidation, energy-saving operation and performance gains made possible by leading-edge data center solutions.

WWT and its longtime partner Intel can be instrumental in the planning and deployment of such an infrastructure refresh. Intel technology is at the heart of WWT's data center solutions, offering: 

When paired with an end-user device refresh, IT modernization can also allow for remotely managed security -- a powerful benefit for organizations in today's work-from-home paradigm. And finally, deploying a more efficient data center helps agencies to enjoy new operational efficiencies -- doing more with fewer human resources so they can focus on other essential public service duties instead of IT.

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4. Enabling Smart Government as the future of responsive public service.

The term "Smart Government" refers to how public sector organizations manage the job of providing government services. Assisted by intelligently networked information and communication technologies, smart governments leverage innovations such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT). They can entail a variety of interrelated "smart" concepts, such as:

  • Smart Ecosystems that tap into the collective ingenuity of private sector business, schools, groups and even individuals.
  • Smart Connectivity and data that enables government to access cyber resources such as IoT to make data-driven decisions.
  • Smart Platform and engagement in an info-sharing partnership between public, private and individual entities for greater civic participation and more informed decision-making.

But, even the smartest organizations will require a powerful, flexible platform on which to govern -- the kind that only a well-planned modern IT infrastructure can provide.

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The necessity for IT modernization is here; the opportunity is now.

The events of 2020 have been a wake-up call for state and local governments everywhere to finally address their technology shortcomings -- especially when individual employees were forced to press their own devices and consumer-grade home networks into service. Many organizations rushed to the cloud at great expense and must now step back and rethink their whole approach as they seek a more permanent, cost-effective data center solution to meet present and future needs.

WWT can help plan a sensible IT modernization and hybrid cloud strategy employing automation to scale quickly. In this way, state and local governments can fulfill their public responsibilities more securely, efficiently, intelligently and cost-effectively -- delivering meaningful service through Smart Government.

Visit our Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to arrange a demonstration, lab or workshop to introduce our vision for IT modernization for state and local government.