While federal government organizations continue their methodical march to IT modernization spurred on by congressional and administration mandates, two senior IT officials from DHS (Department of Homeland Security) have emphasized the importance of the needs of core agency missions to lead those efforts.
Speaking at MeriTalk’s 2018 Data Center Brainstorm, Deputy assistant commissioner for Information and technology at DHS’ U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) organization, Sonny Bhagowalia and Deputy CIO at DHS, Steve Rice described several projects that the sprawling agency and other parts of the government, who have undertaken to advance IT transformation goals, including data center consolidation and modernization.
Bhagowalia assessed the history of the data center consolidation push since 2010, which has succumbed the closure of thousands of centers despite a host of challenges, including transitioning definition of data centers and many-fold increases in data production and use by agencies, but in many areas have fallen short of closure targets and related cost savings. He said that their agency has not hit all the numbers on planned closures, but nonetheless, he termed the results of the effort to be quite good. He described that some degree of reticence at agencies to follow further consolidation can be tied to the importance of agency missions, and voiced support to the primacy of mission in the thinking of agency leaders. Bhagowalia noted that it’s all about the mission, not the number. He stated at CBP that the metrics have shifted away from compliance in favor of adding agency mission, which benefits from having situational awareness and data to the cloud. He pointed out that CBP now has the advantage of Hybrid Cloud services and a lot of efficient data centers, and termed those attributes among the new metrics of success.
In addition, Bhagowalia added that the same sense of devotion to mission, and the need for network resiliency, is driving agencies toward further cloud adoption. In the same line, Rice expressed that his focus was less about data center closures and more about how they deliver information. His list basic requirements for modernizing systems includes, whether they will work with those that are being replaced; supportability; simplicity; and how well they will support growth and elasticity of DHS’ mission. Rice explained elasticity as a condition of the ebb and flows of their mission, and about Cloud services, he cited that Cloud is not paradise, but it permitting them to look at elasticity needs.