A public sector perspective
As the Everything-as-a-Service trend pushes beyond software and into infrastructure and operations, the virtualization of the entire IT stack–compute, network, storage, and security layers–becomes a possibility. Not only could this lower costs, but it also could help improve speed, reduce the complexity of deploying and maintaining technology footprints, boost mission effectiveness in data sharing, and enhance cyber-incident response.
At the forefront, public sector adoption of software-defined compute has been underway for years. Although software-defined everything might be very appealing to a Chief Information Officer (CIO), it’s likely just one of numerous items competing for attention and resources. Various agencies have realized significant benefits after investing heavily in virtualization and are adopting cloud computing. At the top of the pyramid, the complete software-defined data center, which includes the full set of data center capabilities, is still a ways off.
- Establish a baseline. Success tends to be the best motivator for continued improvement. But if you don’t know where you started, you probably won’t know how far you’ve come–or whether it was worth the effort. Establishing solid metrics (such as virtualization adoption percentage and time required to provision specific elements of the IT stack) can help you measure progress and tell a more compelling story.
- Focus on key aspects within the broader picture. Early progress can provide a launchpad for your overall strategy and helps drive change within the organization. Identify focused metrics from your cloud providers or through focused reporting capabilities featured in some of the newer technologies you have purchased. Ask, "Is your team making a concentrated effort to identify tangible benefits and celebrate small wins?" Some commonly overlooked benefits include reduced human error and increased standardization, both of which can lead to early cost savings and efficiency.
- Take a phased approach. Trying to implement software-defined concepts in one big step across all infrastructure components can be daunting and will likely involve more capital investment than most organizations can afford. A more effective approach may be to evaluate automation capabilities as part of the standard IT refresh cycle or through cloud services adoption. Use the baseline metrics noted above to benchmark software-defined deployments against existing best practices, and then focus scarce refresh funds on improvement areas with the greatest potential impact. Use the same baseline metrics to validate improvement, then repeat. Over time, adoption of software-defined layers should evolve.
- Collaborate for success. Learn from the achievements and mistakes of others, especially when it comes to managing change and driving adoption. If you are facing a problem, there’s a good chance someone else has already found a way to address it. No need to reinvent the wheel.