IDC looks at moving government IT to the 3rd platform


IDC Government Insights has released a new white paper, commissioned by Dell examining the effects budget pressure like sequestration is having on IT spend and upgrades. According to the study, “3rd platform” technologies like cloud computing can help government agencies improve productivity and deal with uncertain funding with on demand capacity and features.

IDC lays out what it considers to be the evolution of IT platforms. First platform technologies include mainframes and terminals – high cost, heavy machinery that often took up lots of physical space for relatively limited functionality. Mainframes and terminals stayed with state and local governments well into recent memory owing in large part to lengthy procurement cycles and uncertain funding.

The second platform is more common to state and local IT shops now and is comprised of client/server solutions. Big IT and systems integrators have staked out their brands and market share on offering these solutions, many of which are now legacy systems that technology integrators are still working around through phased in upgrades. The second platform is lower cost than the first, although still bulky on the budget and in terms of physical space.

The third platform relies on newer technologies like cloud services, big data and analytics, and mobile. Third platform technologies are less reliant on on-site servers, or computers and tend to be more scalable. Cloud services, for example, typically let agencies scale up or scale back down as needed.

According to the paper, moving to the third platform also helps governments and agencies realize immediate cost savings by being able to do an upgrade without purchasing all new servers or big hardware. Instead, they can roll out mobile and tablet devices, which connect to a private cloud at a lower cost and footprint. For example, data in the paper shows that “the adoption of cloud email will save around $1 million annually for every 7,500 users.”

Moving to the third platform can also provide agencies and governments with an opportunity to consolidate redundant processes and technologies across silos. Removing this load can streamline business processes and save on maintenance and hardware spend. This is especially important following the 2010 Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, which pushes for data center consolidation at the federal level and also contains some guidance for how states can move forward on consolidation as well.

As CivSource has reported, states are grappling with these issues just like the federal government, and now, sequestration is poised to make these challenges even greater.