In This Article

The federal government is facing a seismic shift in the expectations of its citizens and employees. Citizens, used to the rapid innovation and focus on the customer of the commercial market, expect the same level of service from government agencies, while a whole new generation of employees -- combined with an unexpected remote work reality caused by the pandemic -- expect the most advanced technology to deliver on the mission.  

That said, the government faces a number of challenges in terms of modernization that its counterparts in the private sector often do not. The need to remain a steward of taxpayer dollars, the reliance on significant legacy technology, and simply the "red tape" required to move the needle in the government are among the most notable.  

One way that the federal government can make a difference is by modernizing its software development practices, providing engaging digital services to citizens and enabling its workforce to drive mission effectiveness -- all while keeping applications and data safe. Simplifying the application modernization journey is the way to start.


Modern applications allow agencies to rapidly deliver new digital experiences, but without the right tools and strategy in place, it can be challenging to transform legacy applications and infrastructure. "One step that agencies need to take in their app modernization journey is to introduce containers into their software architecture," said Patrick Youngs, Senior Director, Tanzu U.S. Public Sector at VMware, the company's app modernization platform, during a recent conversation. "Containers enable agencies to move and reliably run applications from one computing environment to another, or from one cloud environment to another. This is critically important for federal agencies that often work in multicloud domains."

Containers comprise an application in a form that's portable and easy to deploy. Containers can run without changes on any compatible system -- in any private cloud, public cloud and even at the edge -- and they consume resources efficiently, enabling high density and resource utilization.

The journey

As agencies move forward with their app modernization journey, it is important to take a strategic approach. In this regard, Youngs laid out the following steps for success:

  1. Plan: Identify areas of opportunity, risk, and mitigations for your app program, and establish an outcomes-based roadmap and plan on how to achieve key business objectives based on research and evidence -- start small and focus on wins early and often.
  2. Build and evolve: Design an app platform that considers both apps and infrastructure, while installing, configuring, and integrating the components needed to enable a developer-centric, production-ready platform.
  3. Launch and adopt: Establish a seamless and efficient path to production and create a developer on-ramp for low-friction, self-service migration.
  4. Manage: Establish modern practices for sustained cloud native success, including updating and patching the app to achieve vulnerability and legacy budgets, while maintaining availability goals.

Process in action

The Air Force's Kessel Run software development team utilized this process to develop an app that would streamline the weekly flying and maintenance schedule for an F-35 squadron. This process previously took a week, requiring multiple resources to download data from the jets, search it, paste information into different spreadsheets and continuously update each system. By going through a formalized app modernization journey, the Air Force team was able to effectively develop the application to cut this process down to minutes, saving time and money.

Enabling development teams

In order to meet the increasing citizen and employee digital expectations, agencies need to enable their development teams to be agile, innovative and efficient. "VMware Tanzu offers the tools and products that agencies need to become a high-velocity engineering team and push their code to production faster," added Youngs. "It helps to eliminate manual steps and toil -- and automates IT workflows -- leading to a more streamlined development process."

For more information on how to effectively pursue an app modernization program, tune into Episode 17 of WWT's Public Sector Tech Talk Series on Tuesday, August 24 at 2:00 PM ET.

Public Sector Tech Talk E17: Simplifying the Government's Application Modernization Journey Stream Episode