4 Simple Steps to Modernize Your Data

Greg Reeder |  May 2018

As painful as it sounds, it’s time to modernize our data management systems. However, you can’t just trash existing systems and start over – although that is a tempting, IT manager’s dream. Fortunately, it is possible to modernize your infrastructure without risking the mission or your budget.

As a former government Information Technology manager, now in the commercial world of high tech, I have an opportunity to hear widespread trends across the government industry. One of those steady drumbeats is that people want their CIOs to offer access to ALL of the data – or at least as much as humanly possible. Teams that support national security and defense missions are shooting for mission success, but they need the whole picture! I am on their side; I’ve walked at least a mile in their shoes. I’m sure many of you hear this same plea for increasing insight and control over the ever-growing chaos of more data.

One of the biggest challenges CIOs and government technology leaders face is the pace of change. Systems we all used for managing data just five years ago can’t handle the complexity and volume of information today. How can we stay ahead of the data modernization game?

Data Modernization Can Be Right-Sized

Data management and modernization doesn’t have to be expensive or time-intensive. While there is no quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution, start by asking:

  • Where does our data management software reside?
  • Do current operating systems allow for growth and capability add-ons?
  • How can we safely and securely push data services into the cloud?
  • What software tools can give us more data control?

Here are four steps that government leaders can consider to reach a right-sized data modernization goal with maximum efficiencies and minimum service degradation:

Step 1: Make your legacy systems a bona fide legacy

Let’s face it – we must move existing software applications off older, legacy systems. Obsolete operating systems are the Achilles’ heel of modernization. They impede progress, slow down operations, eat memory and bandwidth, and are expensive to maintain. These old systems are a ticking time bomb. Eventually, many organizations find that the data they have is outdated, and that it conflicts with other data in their systems or it’s just plain inaccurate.

All hope is not lost, though. There are tools, like the SAP Replication Server, that make it easy to migrate with minimal or no down-time. Plus, with the right migration tools, you can stand up a parallel OS environment while keeping the mission moving forward – and begin to get control of your data and restore trust.

Step 2: Use an on-premise Cloud as your “training wheels”

Just like learning to ride a bike, sometimes we need some balance and control before going solo. Yet, many think they have start off a modernization journey by tossing out their existing software when moving to an on-prem cloud. This isn’t always the case.  There are add-on settings that enable on-premises capabilities, such as Cloud Enabled Rights from SAP NS2; saving your existing software investment (without sacrificing security). Before moving to an on-premises cloud you should know which software and apps work best in that environment, and those you should leave in place, on your existing systems. Lastly, keep in mind that cloud hosting is one of the fastest, most balanced ways to modernize: it delivers a superior uptime, while reducing security vulnerabilities.

Less than 5% of private cloud environments in government actually have the full characteristics of cloud*

Step 3: Take the leap to a secure, managed Cloud

If you tried an on-premise cloud, you probably soon realized that there were still quite a bit of costs and headaches.  While it might seem counterintuitive, making a bigger leap by migrating to a managed, secured cloud has some good news: the juice is worth the squeeze on this move. For example, consider that “less than 5% of private cloud environments in government actually have the full characteristics of cloud.” In contrast, secure managed cloud infrastructure gives you scale and security that most of us can’t possibly do on prem. With a managed service, your teams will spend less time worrying about “the system,” and more time innovating and driving data insights. A secure cloud can relieve data storage issues, expand scale, improve bandwidth and give you even more control – all of which open up a more-complete data management environment.

Step 4: Choose tools that supersize control

Even with a modern Cloud environment in place, to keep pace with the chaos of data, your team will need a visual environment to manage everything. Tools, like the SAP Data Hub, can work across any infrastructure, data lakes, cloud object storage, relational databases, and enterprise applications. With the current speed of change, even the best CIOs and IT experts can’t fully imagine what tools and tech we’ll need next. We should learn from our past mistakes, though, and not limit ourselves to what is available today. Rather, put in place capabilities and technology that can be future proof, which will adjust over time.

Tame the Chaos

Some say that success begins at the edge of your comfort zone. Leaving a legacy behind while leaping into new technology can be uncomfortable. However, with a solid, modern foundation in place, you can equip your team with the control, flexibility and security that they need to achieve mission success. Controlling the chaos of data is within your reach.


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