2013 and the Lesson of the Pager

01.04.2013

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Written by Jim Reinertsen, VP of Federal Sales, North America

We avoided sequestration but the federal government will have to continue to focus on budget cutting throughout the year. The outlook into the future will be defined by increased austerity.

Look no further than the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget, which agencies across the federal government will be working to finalize in the first few months of 2013. According to a mandate from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released last year, agencies must reduce their overall budget requests for FY14 by five percent and their information technology (IT) requests by 10 percent.

The first instinct may be to reduce spending on new technology programs and divert all remaining resources to operations and maintenance (O&M) of existing systems. This is a common response to budget cuts, not just within technology systems, but across the board. This makes sense for management functions like building and utility maintenance because maintenance costs in these areas are usually steady and predictable. Unfortunately, this approach often fails as technology maintenance cost curves are not necessarily stable or predictable.

While a 10 year old building with a leaky roof can be easily repaired to last another 10 years, aging technology is sometimes beyond simple repair. An easy example is the pager. This technology was cutting-edge in the 1990s and a staple of high-stress jobs, seeing widespread use in hospital and financial settings. But no matter how many maintenance dollars you pour into your pager management program, the pagers will never be able to fulfill new agency needs, like sending and receiving emails or providing video-conference capabilities. For these functions, you’ll have to invest in a new system or fully modernize your existing communications infrastructure, rather than simply keep the old one in pristine condition.

The challenge in managing technology programs is that there is no easy way to predict when a perfectly-useful system will become obsolete or too expensive to maintain. Instead, agencies must always set aside a healthy portion of their budget to invest in modernizing or replacing legacy systems. This is even more important during times of austerity, when the O&M costs of such systems may actually be higher than the costs of modernization. So as agencies begin to prepare their strategy for the tough times ahead, let’s hope that they remember the history of the pager and the importance of technology modernization.

Micro Focus is here to help you ensure your mainframe-based legacy systems remain a modernized asset while concurrently helping you reduce your O&M spend. Please feel free to contact us for more information, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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