What is the New IP? If you’ve been following my series on Federal Insights, you may know that the New IP is an emerging networking foundation for innovation based on open standards, and a software-defined, highly dynamic and user-centric infrastructure. As we enter a cloud and mobile driven era, IT infrastructure must be modernized to enable government innovation. The New IP is industry’s recognition of this paradigm shift in networking requirements.
So far in the series, we have examined important elements on the New IP checklist – creating a software-defined, automated and open IT environment that requires lower CapEx and OpEx spending. However, shifting to the New IP isn’t just about the technologies agencies utilize – it is also about the way agencies acquire IT. In today’s post, we’ll be looking at how agencies need to not only innovate their networks but also rethink how they procure technology.
Shifting Control to the Agency
Brocade’s Director of Federal, Tony Celeste, recently participated in a panel, Innovation & Tech Superiority through Acquisition Reform, that shed light on how procurement can play a critical role in enabling the New IP and empowering agencies to control their own IT infrastructure. During the panel, Tony was joined by Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration CIO Joe Paiva, NASA Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) Program Manager Joanne Woytek and immixGroup Executive Vice President and Co-Founder Steve Charles.
Innovation & Tech Superiority through Acquisition Reform explored ways the procurement process can increase the control government has in creating an IT environment that truly serves its technology needs. Vendors provide an important function in federal IT. With the ability to invest in R&D and stay on the cutting edge of the technology services they provide, vendors are responsible for identifying government’s true needs and serving those as effectively as possible, without limiting future opportunities for agency innovation.
However, acquisition reform starts with leadership - and agency leaders need to demand open standards and take a requirement based approach to procurement, rather than a brand specific approach. For example, if an agency is looking to procure a smartphone, it shouldn’t request an iPhone, but should instead focus on the specific features and requirements it needs. By conducting market research as they define requirements, leaders can develop a complete view of the solutions available to them and are empowered to make the best decisions for their agencies.
As agency leaders look to the private sector for the implementation of new technologies, they still need to maintain control over agency IT infrastructure to allow them to continuously improve. Often, vendors control government IT decisions by locking agencies in through proprietary protocols. Eliminating these proprietary standards and emphasizing openness on government networks puts agency IT decision makers in control of their infrastructure.
Panelists also reflected on other elements of the acquisition process that can give agency IT leaders greater control over the procurement process, like the addition of as-a-service acquisition models. Paiva noted that the availability of as-a-service models was “music to his ears.”
“I’ll never buy another router if I don’t have to,” he noted. As agencies make decisions that will better enable them to control their own IT infrastructure, the door will be opened for innovation and more widespread implementation of IT trends like cloud, mobile and big data that will improve the way agencies serve citizens and warfighters.
By providing agencies with control of their IT infrastructure, government is positioned to successfully make the shift to the New IP.