Getting Ready for the Big Five

— February 11, 2014

"Big Five"—data center consolidation, mobility, security, big data and cloud computing—are the top trends these days, but how will they affect state and local government IT? According to a new MeriTalk report, underwritten by Brocade, a majority of agencies, 94%, are simply not prepared.

The Big Five purport to leverage technology to improve government efficiency and service. "The irony is—these transformation initiatives have the potential to choke networks and productivity,” said Steve O’Keeffe, Founder, MeriTalk. "If we don’t make adequate infrastructure provisions, the Big Five could deep six productivity."

The report, “Big Five in Overdrive: Are State and Local Networks Ready,” shows that 89% of agencies would need additional network capacity to just maintain current service levels, if all Big Five were deployed today. Tellingly, more than half (52%) of those surveyed believe their organization’s senior leaders do not understand the combined impact of the Big Five on IT.

And as demand for infrastructure rapidly outstrips the supply, capacity isn’t all that will suffer. Respondents also report that as a result of the infrastructure imbalance created by unsynchronized Big Five adoption, their agency will face security risks (59%), bandwidth limitations (55%), storage limitations (44%) and network latency (40%).

To overcome these challenges, respondents aren’t asking for new budget or policy changes from leadership; they simply want better coordination. Agencies would benefit from increased efficiencies (72%), shared best practices (59%), and better decision making (58%). Despite the reasonable ask, just two out of five agencies are actively coordinating efforts across the Big Five. 

Support from the top is critical. When asked what they most need from their senior leaders, 54% of respondents called for clear prioritization from leadership, 47% asked for regular coordination across all initiatives, and 44% cited the need for standardized documentation of infrastructure requirements.

“If agencies don’t align their plans to the major IT trends driving our industry, both cost and risk will increase,” said Anthony Robbins, Vice President Public Sector, Brocade.  “The Big Five will fundamentally reshape how state and local governments can deliver services to citizens – better services at a lower total cost.  Agencies can’t afford to wait, but without coordination and planning, network capacity will choke off any chance at delivering benefits.”

The Big Five does promise to improve performance, productivity, and service. In the meantime, however, bottlenecks and demands on the IT infrastructure are imminent.

While agencies have a long way to go in preparing their networks for the Big Five, some agencies are laying the groundwork now. Forty-five percent of survey respondents report that they have already taken steps to improve security measures.  In addition, agencies have taken steps to improve network policies, reduce network latency, improve scalability, and add bandwidth.

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