American Technology Council Summit: Modernizing Federal IT Infrastructure

The American Technology Council (ATC), under the Office of American Innovation (OAI), recently convened a summit of top tech CEOs to take a deep look at the government’s technology-enabled services and discuss ways to modernize infrastructure to improve processes, services, and security. Representing VMware and Dell Technologies, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger attended the forum to provide insight on how the federal government can best use modern IT infrastructure to execute agency missions and ensure national security.

Virtualization and cloud computing were among the innovative solutions explored at the summit for their potential to remedy the technology and agility challenges facing federal agencies. Silicon Valley has long realized that technologies such as these can offer improvement in day-to-day operations. The ATC is exploring ways to dramatically enhance long-term prospects for government IT infrastructure, workforce skill development, and citizen education within the Federal government. These are critical benefits as technology and automation are poised to heavily influence and shape society in the coming decades.

“We don’t often talk about how investing in technology infrastructure benefits individual American citizens working their way through school or building new skills to change careers, but it’s top of mind for us as we share our expertise with the council, as we do with our many public sector customers across the country,” says Gelsinger.

American Technology Council

The ATC, which was announced earlier this year, has a mandate to coordinate how the federal government modernizes its IT systems and delivers digital services. Agency heads will work on modernizing the technology and data infrastructure of every federal department—including cloud, cybersecurity, and IT-related citizen services.

The ATC is directed to submit a report by August 2017 on how to modernize federal IT. The report must include a description of legal, policy and budgetary considerations, technical feasibility, cost effectiveness, timelines, and milestones to transition all agencies or subset of agencies to one or more consolidated network architectures and shared IT services.  

Modernize Data Centers Through Virtualization

Freeing the government from technological obsolescence through virtualization is one suggestion tech industry leaders have offered the council for future-proofing government technology. In fact, several federal agencies are heavily virtualized today and already gaining results.

In June, the Government Accountability Office testified before Congress that the federal government has already virtualized 60 percent of its servers. Completing the project to virtualize all government servers will deliver outsized benefits by simultaneously increasing security and sustainability.

In addition, virtualization is good for the environment. VMware virtualization technology, for example, has saved 340 million metric tons of CO2e from entering the atmosphere—the equivalent to powering 43 percent of U.S. households for one year—and continued virtualization efforts will reduce carbon emissions.

Move to the Cloud

Despite mandates for federal agencies to move to the cloud, the Office of Management and Budget states that the federal government has only migrated seven percent of its workloads to the public cloud. This lack of progress has been due to several items, including migration costs, a lack of knowledge regarding how to contract and bill cloud vendors, a lack of private cloud optimization and hybrid cloud options, and a lack of understanding regarding the various cloud services.

VMware advises the government to transition to services such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to the furthest extent practicable. Additional suggestions include migrating to inter-agency shared services or co-location data centers, but it’s important to ensure they are configured properly with micro-segmentation to increase security.

“These discussions are a step in the right direction in helping the federal government modernize its IT systems and deliver digital services to its citizens,” says Gelsinger. “It was powerful to see leaders across the technology industry willing to engage and partner in such a meaningful way. As a leader in helping both the public and private sector accelerate digital transformation initiatives, VMware and Dell Technologies will continue to work with the federal government in modernizing their IT infrastructure, which can save taxpayers money, reduce vulnerabilities, and help accelerate American innovation.”