Modernizing Florida – Agency by Agency, App by App

Neil HartleyApplication ModernizationLeave a Comment

Florida Governor's Office

That’s the dream, and not just for Florida. Not even just for public sector but also for private enterprises and software vendors like Ellucian too. The reality is a lot of hard work but, as you can see from the featured image on this post, we’ve made it to the Governor’s office in Florida. I’m the old guy in the middle, the young guns with me are Dexter Oliver of our partner Integritas Solutions and Sam Verghese of One Eighty Consulting.

We’ve met three agency CIOs in the past couple of days and I want to share what we’ve learned:

  1. Mainframe is dead, cloud is king. You can hear the rumble of boots in the corridors of power as agencies look to escape the staggeringly high annual maintenance costs of their mainframe environments. Good if you’re a cloud provider (or a legacy modernization player), bad if you have large swathes of your revenue accruing from those maintenance fees.
  2. There’s broad recognition that the silver tsunami (is that me?) is now a clear and present danger. Only last week former US CIO, Tony Scott, said of the silver tsunami, “I think it’s a crisis that’s bigger than Y2K. It’s just creeping up on us slowly, month by month, year by year.
  3. There are staggeringly large sums of money being spent on ‘modernization’ efforts with an attendant concern not to repeat past failings.
  4. There’s no desire for short term fixes or covering over the cracks. Solutions that don’t deal with core problems are being overlooked in favor of longer term fixes to the root cause. Bad news for lift and shift vendors and those with emulators, good news for those that take the risk out of long term projects.
  5. Agencies are favoring switching out legacy systems for a COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) solution (where feasible) and will bear 5+ year cycles to procure and have that COTS solution customized. The worry is how to avoid the major disasters of others who have been down this route.
  6. Interim solutions that can take cost out of the agency will be explored even where the end goal is a full replacement of the system with a COTS.
  7. If you’re in the legacy modernization business, you better be able to deal with every requirement because every legacy language is still out there and the target environment is not just .NET or Java but T-SQL and other technologies too. Oh, and what’s modern today is legacy tomorrow, so no complacency allowed…

In summary, lots of highly complex projects with huge price tickets are to be delivered over many years. And the requirements are? Those requirements will be developed by when? And there are no moving goalposts in the interim?

Who’d be CIO of one of these agencies? You need big boots and nerves of steel. Kudos to them all or, maybe, Kuscos for them all. Let’s leave that thought right there and I’ll be back with the second part of this post which will explain why Kuscos is the software intelligence tool that will help them plan and mitigate the risk, not just of their modernization projects but of any IT development project. The good news was, they seemed to agree…

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