During my sophomore year in college my girlfriend at the time made a mixtape of my favorite songs. It was a very thoughtful overture. Yet today her efforts would be considered unnecessary and inefficient. There is no need to record songs from CDs or other tapes onto a new tape. Instead we outsource the development of playlists to Spotify, Pandora, or the other latest music streaming service.
I wonder if we are approaching the day when we should consider the efforts of federal agencies to manage their IT infrastructure equally unnecessary and inefficient. Are we ready to outsource to Amazon Web Service, Rackspace, Azure, and the Google Computing Engine – the Spotifys and Pandoras of information technology?
I think so.
Recently, Joe Paiva, CIO at the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA), said he wanted, “… to be out of the IT business by July”. In his vision, the agency’s IT department will not be directly responsible for network and printing operations or even setting up laptops and issuing mobile devices. Instead they will focus on the business of the ITA – using big data to make doing business overseas for U.S. companies easier and more efficient.
We know that federal agencies spend a disproportionate amount of their IT budget on maintaining legacy systems as opposed to investing in future value adding technologies. We also know that among mission critical federal occupations, information technology specialists scored the lowest in employment engagement and overall satisfaction. Correspondingly, we have seen significant growth in the breadth and depth of Infrastructure-As-A-Service providers and Fedramp is already in place to mollify security concerns with cloud services.
The data would suggest that it is time for agencies to let go of the mixtape.