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FCW : April 30, 2016
As reported in a November 2015 FCW article, U.S. CIO Tony Scott has raised the red flag regarding legacy federal IT systems and has likened their impact to that of the Year 2000 computer glitch. Specifically, Scott homed in on the looming wave of retirements among the experienced IT personnel who built and manage legacy IT sys- tems and infrastructure and how that exodus will empty the government of intimate knowledge of how those older systems operate. Scott’s comments were in line with concerns he has raised elsewhere: that federal agencies often must dedi- cate their tight IT budgets to existing “legacy” projects, leaving scant dollars to invest in next-generation networks or fully replace aging systems. That refrain is increasingly heard across the U.S. public sector, and it will grow louder in the current budget climate. Indeed, the Defense Department and civilian agencies alike are at a vexing inflection point when it comes to upgrading, replacing or even main- taining mission-critical legacy infra- structure that is essential to their day-to-day operations. Maintaining legacy systems can be costly. A recent report by the Government Account- ability Office found that of the total technology budget of more than $78 billion earmarked for fiscal 2015, 26 agencies spent $60 billion on legacy investments. And the amount spent on obsolete IT has been increasing for the past six years. Although the legacy infrastruc- ture challenge is formidable, it is not insurmountable. A growing number of agencies are evaluating or deploying cloud-based unified communications with the dual objectives of extending the life of legacy IT assets and maxi- mizing the benefits the cloud model can deliver. Challenges of aging infrastructure Legacy infrastructures, even when functionally satisfactory, present sever- al challenges from a fiscal, security and workforce collaboration standpoint. As an infrastructure ages, it becomes more costly to support because techni- BY RUSSELL BRODSKY When there’s no money to replace aging systems, cloud-based unified communications can offer agencies a critical bridge Extending the life of legacy IT DrillDown 20 April 30, 2016 FCW.COM SHUTTERSTOCK Continued on page 31 0430fcw_020-031.indd 20 4/5/16 2:13 PM
April 15, 2016
May 15, 2016