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Inauguration 2017: How Can Agencies Meet Administration Expectations?

Jim Smid, CTO, Iron Bow Technologies

January 20, 2017  |  Cloud  •  Cyber Security  •  IT Modernization

Today, January 20, 2017, President Donald Trump officially takes office. While federal experts have been speculating for months around priorities of the new administration, we will soon find out what is top of mind.

Above all else, government cyber security has proven itself a clear front-runner in 2016 discussions, and will need to remain so as we move into 2017. In fact, $1 trillion in federal spending over the next five years is expected to go toward cyber security.

As of late, IoT cyber threats have been looming over national security. In light of the recent Dyn distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which disrupted major websites like Reddit and Twitter, the federal government continues to work to better understand and streamline IoT security standards.

Noticing agencies’ embrace of trends like hybrid cloud and mobility, and the expansion of national connectivity, both the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are among those that have released guidelines to securing national data. Both sets of recommendations hope to prompt development of agency systems from the bottom up, addressing security throughout the engineering process, rather than “bolting it on” after the fact.

In the age of digital transformation, keeping national security strong is more important than ever. To address the new administration’s cyber concerns and elevate our national cyber stance in the New Year, federal agencies must consider modernizing outdated IT systems.

Legacy infrastructure was not developed to withstand today’s evolving cyber risks. Unfortunately, to address this issue, agencies often add on security as an afterthought, rather than address the root of the problem – outdated infrastructure. As both NIST and the DHS suggest, bolted-on solutions are often only temporary, and as legacy systems are becoming less reliable with age, a stopgap solution can’t be the answer.

Federal agencies are in desperate need of assistance to meet their modernization goals, in turn guaranteeing the new administration’s standard of data security. The Defense Information System’s Agency (DISA), for example, recently appealed to industry to develop solutions that can move agency modernization forward. And Federal CIO Tony Scott cultivated the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) to empower agency CIOs to make IT modernization possible in their respective agencies.

Government-wide modernization is a costly effort. Recognizing this, federal IT leaders have created initiatives for increased funding toward modernization, such as the Modernizing Government Technology Act. Though the bill did not yet pass, it is expected and necessary that similar legislation is suggested by the new administration.

Not only will modernized infrastructure prove more reliable for the vast amounts of data that pass through government agencies, but it will also produce cost savings. The Technology CEO Council recently offered recommendations to the Trump administration in how they can reap federal savings. As a part of the group’s findings, IT modernization – if implemented correctly – is expected to garner $110 billion savings over 10 years. These predicted reserves could be invested in better cyber solutions.

Whether agencies receive funding or not, they can find cost-efficient methods for modernization through adoption of flexible hyperconverged infrastructure and by moving data to the hybrid cloud. Network modernization can afford agencies more sophisticated cyber defense though automation and visibility, allowing them to spot malware and enable remediation with ease. Federal employees must also adopt a forward-looking mindset like those set forth by FITARA.

2017 will bring with it great change in federal government, but there is one thing agencies can count on: If they make the right IT investments and update agency culture to match, federal IT in the new administration can be stronger than ever.

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