It’s probably not a shocking revelation to learn that Federal IT managers are less than happy with their agency’s IT infrastructure. Their biggest gripes, according to a recent MeriTalk survey are that it’s 1) expensive, 2) difficult to manage, and 3) inefficient. Small wonder then that the same survey found that nearly all of those who participated–92 percent of 150 Federal IT managers–were frustrated with the state of their infrastructure.

Among the most promising solutions touted today is a Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI), an entirely virtual, software-defined IT system configuration. Federal tech managers surveyed by MeriTalk expect big things from HCI–89 percent believe it could accelerate modernization efforts, including cloud migration, automation and advanced analytics. That’s not all: Respondents also expect HCI adoption to improve their agency’s data sharing abilities; help bridge the gap between their agency’s current infrastructure and the future cloud strategy; and increase the chances that their agency can accomplish its given mission.

Still, it’s not a cure-all, nor will it be easy to implement an HCI strategy. In fact, despite its many benefits, 81 percent of respondents said they are hesitant to adopt a first-generation HCI solution.

“There is a learning curve for people who have not dipped into this,” says Gerald Caron, III, the acting director of Enterprise Network Management at the U.S. State Department, in a MeriTalk webinar. “You need to have the right workforce. Take a methodical approach with it,” he said.

Among the many concerns, Federal IT managers worry about performance and consolidation challenges, not to mention hidden costs and licensing fees.

“These [concerns] make sense,” says Dale Degen, director of production solutions marketing for NetApp’s Unstructured Data division. “If you’re looking at building out an HCI strategy, you want to look at compatibility … You don’t want to get siloed into a new technology. Look for good solutions that leverage industry standard protocols. Bring vendors into your organization and have them adapt to what you’re already managing.”

Still, one of the most important things to remember, says Mike Rosa, lead technologist at the Department of Homeland Security, is not to wait on the sidelines. Technology is evolving with every passing second, and the consequences of inaction or even delayed action could be compounded. (No pressure, though.)

“Being proactive is important,” Rosa says. “Especially when it comes to cybersecurity, and that’s true for all technology. We can’t wait and not be involved. We need to be involved in the beginning. That’s how we’re going to find out how technologies will affect us.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.