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GCN : August 2015
LEGACY SYSTEMS Beyond such improvements, simply maintaining exist- ing IT systems is an expensive proposition for government agencies. The Professional Services Council's latest survey of federal CIOs and chief information security officers found that, on average, 75 percent of IT budgets go to operations and maintenance (O&M) of existing infrastructure. That number will go down over time, but the CIOs and CISOs said that three years from now they expect to put just over a third of their budgets into development, modernization and enhancement. Some sectors are even worse off. For example, the De- fense Department currently spends 80 percent of its IT budget on existing systems. And the Navy recently award- ed a $9.1 million contract to Microsoft to support legacy Windows programs such as XP. The deal could run through 2017 and eventually cost more than $30 million. David Wennergren, a former DOD technology executive and now senior vice president of technology at the Profes- sional Services Council, said upgrading legacy systems is a complex process for most agencies. "You've got to have a strategic decision that it's time to migrate off System A, and then [ask] what's that migration plan going to look like and does everyone agree on that direction," he said. "If you decide you want to build a new system, that also requires a different appropriation [from] the one that provides operations and maintenance dollars, so you've then got to go to Congress and convince them of the need." Alternatively, Wennergren said, organizations could take advantage of consumption-based models that allow them to use O&M funds, such as the cloud. Rather than build a wholly new system, agencies could hire a provider to de- liver the service "and pay them by the drink," he said. That way the onus is on the provider to determine whether a new system is needed to support the outsourcing contract --- and if so, the provider pays for it. It's a question of priorities, he added. A new Web-based front end might be enough to provide users with an effi- cient and modern experience, even though there's a legacy system chugging away in the background. And out of 100 legacy systems at a given agency, half might be fine just the way they are while the other 50 are woefully out of date, leaving the agency with operating systems that are no lon- ger supported and core functions that "are held together with duct tape," he said. "So you have systems where you either have a compel- ling opportunity or a compelling need that you have to deal with first," Wennergren said. "If you can first understand what you have, then you can put together migration plans about how and why to move systems this year." THE IMPORTANCE OF AN APPLICATION AUDIT NASA has been one of the strongest proponents of the cloud for those purposes and of hybrid solutions in particular. Certain physical systems, such as supercomputers, must "If you decide you want to build a new system, that also requires a different appropriation [from] the one that provides operations and maintenance dollars, so you've then got to go to Congress and convince them of the need." DAVID WENNERGREN, PROFESSIONAL SERVICES COUNCIL 18 GCN AUGUST 2015 • GCN.COM