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The Top Three Things Keeping Government IT Up at Night

Bret Fitzgerald

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January 16, 2014 11:44 am

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AwakeNobody said government was a low-stress job, but should it really be nerve-racking for the IT department? You’re not the President of the United States, so why is managing government IT so stressful? Here are the top three things keeping government IT up at night:

Security

For a government organization, security is never just “nice to have.” Whether you’re a small town fire department or a major metropolis, security is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, that eliminates many of the IT options that are available today. “With a cloud solution, you never really know where your data is and who has access to it,” says Paul Pedron, senior network systems specialist for the City of Fresno. “And when your data expires, is it really deleted?”

That’s one of the reasons the City of Fresno chose Novell. Along with multiplatform support, the device and data security of the Novell solution meant that for the City of Fresno, “Novell had the solution that fit our needs.”

Though governments differ around the world, most of the challenges are the same. One of government’s fundamental goals is to protect its citizens. “Security is probably the biggest issue we’ve got, because it underlies so much of the other things we are trying to do,” said Paul Christman, public sector vice president at Dell Software. “It can’t go on hiatus.”

Budget

Not everyone thinks security is the number one nightmare. According to respondents in the Cisco Connected Government Study, the biggest concern for government IT is budget constraints. While all organizations have budget issues from time to time, being unable to control your budget makes life particularly tough for government organizations. In the same article in which he stressed security, Christman also said, “funding has become chaotic and erratic.”

Sadly, many organizations aren’t helping themselves. The website BreakingGov.com reports that government wastes up to 30 percent of the money it spends on software. That’s because organizations buy too many or the wrong kinds of licenses, have inefficient processes or are not managing their software wisely.

Intelligently fixing just one of these issues can lead to big savings. The Industry and Investment Department of the government in New South Wales, for instance, has focused on using remote deployments as a wiser way to manage software. They now perform about 25 remote deployments a month. “If you consider that it could potentially save us 25 ten-hour round trips, it’s clearly a much more cost- and time-efficient way of managing our infrastructure,” said Warrie Holman, manager of desktop environments in that department.

Novell understands that government software has to provide real value. That’s why organizations like the government of New South Wales, the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, and many others have chosen Novell software. “Ultimately it’s all about getting better value for public money,” said John Reynolds, Network Services Manager at East Sussex.

Audit

Government organizations are generally subject to regular audits. “Our agency has a significant impact on the largest bond funds in the state,” said Stephen Paxman of the Texas General Land Office, “so we’re audited frequently to ensure compliance with grant programs, mineral rights management and other regulations.”

Often government organizations are legally obligated to retain certain files for a set number of years. And as government organizations gather private information, they may fall under additional rules such as the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards. “If someone wants to change credit card business rules, for example, we need to demonstrate to auditors how those decisions were made,” said Paxman.

Another large issue for many government organizations is that certain technologies, such as the cloud applications mentioned earlier, are either illegal or in violation of internal regulations. That means that government IT has to constantly police its own users to make sure they are not breaking the rules behind IT’s back. Otherwise, the next audit will go poorly for all involved.

Novell solutions use policies and best practices that help you remain compliant. They also provide detailed reporting to help you prove that compliance. That’s why the Texas General Land Office uses Novell and why Paxman reports, “The auditors had almost no questions, and were very complimentary of our approach. That’s pretty amazing!”

With worries as diverse and as serious as stringent security requirements, uncertain budgets and constant audits, it’s no surprise that government IT professionals are losing a little sleep. Hopefully, government organizations will work to make the budget and regulations governing IT a little easier on the IT department. Until then, it will be up to IT departments themselves to find products that help them work smarter and solve these challenges on their own.

 Appendix: Additional Quotes from Novell government customer success stories

“We wanted to manage the Windows 7 migration as efficiently as possible, with minimal disruption to our users. As our IT team is quite small, it was key for us to automate as much of the process as we could.”

Thomas Leuthard
Deputy Head of Support
Kanton Zug
http://www.novell.com/success/stories/kanton-zug.html

“In addition, the Novell Strategic Enterprise Agreement enables us to make savings on the normal licensing cost for the software… Ultimately it’s all about getting better value for public money.”

John Reynolds
Network Services Manager (IMD)
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Services
http://www.novell.com/success/esfr.html

“The Novell ZENworks solution from Serco has played an important role in enabling us to reduce the total number of workstations we need. We have already achieved direct cost savings of approximately £250K through the reduction in desktop charges.”

Trevor H. Ward
Head of Infrastructure
Ealing Borough Council
https://www.novell.com/communities/coolsolutions/west-london-government-service-agency-slashes-costs-zenworks/

“This is the first secure smartphone infrastructure that passes all security tests required for use within government institutions.”

Jörg Hadameck
IT Security Officer
German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
https://innerweb.novell.com/docrep/2013/03/german_federal_ministry_ee.pdf?noredir=true

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