Monday, February 7th, 2011 - 11:47
Monday, February 7, 2011 - 10:29
IT consolidation savings are “organization-agnostic.” Opportunities to reduce IT costs and improve performance exist at each level: department, agency, cabinet, government-wide.
There are opportunities for savings from IT consolidation through efforts large and small, and at multiple levels across government. Servers can be consolidated across an agency, data centers can be consolidated across a department, secretariats can move to one email system, and even services like payroll applications can be shared across agencies. Innovative leadership, and the desire to shape the future – rather than just react to it – are the characteristics that will determine whether the federal government is able to realize the full savings from IT consolidation. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet, only the commitment and leadership of individuals driving specific initiatives within their agency or department.
The IT “pieceparts” distribution – e.g. servers, storage and applications – will typically mirror the pyramidal hierarchy of the organization itself. These pieceparts will not only reflect the hierarchy, but also the historical development through time as organizational responsibilities evolved and IT investments were made. It’s no surprise that legacy (the previous investments) and inertia (the strong human pull of maintaining things as they are) work in concert to promote excess capacities at all levels.
What this means is that leaders – at all levels of the government – can look for and identify opportunities for cost savings and better performance. 20-30% reduction in your IT costs, and simultaneous improvement in the agility and performance of your organization is challenging, but achievable. It is within reach. These levels of savings come from IBM’s own experience, and that of others. They were the result of creating and executing against a roadmap with specific targets for cost reduction and capabilities implementation. But really, is developing and executing a cost and performance roadmap for your agency any more difficult than figuring out how you will meet your agency mission with flat or declining budgets?
Developing a cost savings and performance improvement roadmap is not as hard as you might think. The first step is to discover what you have. The tools available to conduct full IT environment scans are quite powerful, and can quickly return a rich data set about the hardware, software and even the people who are attached to your network (you mean you didn’t know you had two programmers and three IT support specialists on staff)? Determination of the full extent of your IT environment is the first step leading to identifying where consolidation (and savings) can occur.
Analysis of the discovery data is the next step. A robust analysis will provide insights about opportunities for savings – and for enhanced performance – and culminate in the development of a comprehensive fact-based IT strategy and business case, and a migration plan.
Once armed with a solid plan, you can begin the implementation and the deployment of new systems and staged migration of current applications. These are the steps that will yields the payoff in cost savings benefits. The greater the initial scope in executing the discovery-analysis-implementation trio, the greater the benefits at each level of the organizational hierarchy and lower the deployment risks. Based on this approach over the past three years, IBM has honed a tool and team-based solution to migrate and consolidate hundreds of thousands of servers and thousands of applications.
A department’s application can be migrated to operate in a virtualized environment on a shared server or Cloud Infrastructure; the agency’s databases can be consolidated onto a SAN; the government’s email needs can be consolidated onto a cloud service.
At this point your eyes may have glazed over, and you may be thinking “It would take years to even get a plan – and by the time I got the plan it would be out of date.” Not so, readers. The ingredients are in the box and on the shelf. You can have a full system scan, a robust analysis and an implementation plan in the space of 2-6 months. The capabilities exist, and the opportunity is there for the taking. Creative and results-oriented leaders can shape their own destiny starting now.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Johnny Barnes, pictured above, is the General Manager Technology and CTO for IBM's Global Business Services. Mr. Barnes has over 35 years of experience with IBM, holding a variety of product, solution development, staff, system architecture, management and executive positions. Mr. Barnes has been appointed to several IBM corporate staff positions, which have included a number of critical IBM product and strategy task forces responsible for establishing the future technical and business direction for IBM. Mr. Barnes has also worked to re-engineer IBM’s internal hardware development, global computing and telephony environments and grow IBM’s Public Sector transformation services business.
Mr. Barnes has an overall perspective of the computer industry and its applicability to business segments, as well as IBM's strategic plans to meet the distributed computing and e-business on demand market to satisfy future critical business requirements. Currently, as General Manager Technology and Corporate Technology Officer, Mr. Barnes has responsibility for IBM’s WW Public Sector Technical and Solution Strategy and expanding IBM’s Public Sector transformation service business.