Omar Rafik, SolarWinds Senior Manager, Federal Sales Engineering

 

Here’s an interesting article by my colleague Mav Turner with suggestions on improving your agency’s FITARA score. FITARA rolls up scores from other requirements and serves to provide a holistic view of agency performance.

 

The most recent version of the scorecard measuring agency implementation of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act gave agencies cause for both celebration and concern. On the whole, scores in December’s FITARA Scorecard 7.0 rose, but some agencies keep earning low scores.

 

Agencies don’t always have the appropriate visibility into their networks to allow them to be transparent. All agencies should strive for better network visibility. Let’s look at how greater visibility can help improve an agency’s score and how DevOps and agile approaches can propel their modernization initiatives.

 

Software Licensing

 

Agencies with the lowest scores in this category failed to provide regularly updated software licensing inventories. This isn’t entirely surprising; after all, when licenses aren’t immediately visible, they tend to get forgotten or buried as a budget line item. Out of sight, out of mind.

 

However, the Making Electronic Government Accountable by Yielding Tangible Efficiencies Act (MEGABYTE Act) of 2016 is driving agencies to make some changes. MEGABYTE requires agencies to establish comprehensive inventories of their software licenses and use automated discovery tools to gain visibility into and track them. Agencies are also required to report on the savings they’ve achieved by optimizing their software licensing inventory.

 

Even if an agency doesn’t have an automated suite of solutions, it can still assess their inventory. This can be a great exercise for cleaning house and identifying “shelfware,” software purchased but no longer being used.

 

Risk Management

 

Risk management is directly tied to inventory management. IT professionals must know what applications and technologies comprise their infrastructures. Obtaining a complete understanding of everything within those complex networks can be daunting, but there are solutions to help.

 

Network and inventory monitoring technologies can give IT professionals insight into the different components affecting their networks, from mobile devices to servers and applications. They can use these technologies to monitor for potential intrusions and threats, but also to look for irregular traffic patterns and bandwidth issues.

 

Data Center Optimization

 

Better visibility can also help IT managers identify legacy applications to modernize. Knowing which applications are being used is critical to being able to determine which ones should be removed and where to focus modernization efforts.

 

Unfortunately, agencies discover they still need legacy solutions to complete certain tasks. They get stuck in a vicious circle where they continue to add to, not reduce, their data centers. Their FITARA scores end up reflecting this struggle.

 

Applying a DevOps approach to modernization can help agencies achieve their goals. DevOps is often based on agile development practices enabling incremental improvements in short amounts of time; teams see what they can realistically get done in three to five weeks. They prioritize the most important projects and strive for short-term wins. This incremental progress can build momentum toward longer-term goals, including getting all legacy applications offline and reducing costly overhead.

 

While visibility and transparency are essential for improvements across all these categories, FITARA scorecards themselves are also useful for shining light on the macro problems agencies face today. They can help illuminate areas of improvement, so IT professionals can prioritize their efforts and make a significant difference to their organizations. Every government IT manager should stay up-to-date on the scoring methodologies and how other agencies are doing.

 

Find the full article on Government Computer News.

 

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