5 Approaches to Modernize Government Applications

Increasingly, people expect their web experience to be as easy as buying something on Amazon. So when people go to a government portal to pay their water bill, reserve a campsite in a national park, or sign up for the TSA pre-check program, a clunky interface that’s slow and hard to use can be a bit of a downer.

That’s a big reason why governments are taking steps to modernize their applications. They know that technology can help them support their constituents better and faster. By keeping up with the digital era, they can also keep the trust of the people they serve.

Another other big reason governments push for modernization? Money. It’s estimated that in 2015, 75% of the U.S. government’s $80 billion IT budget went to just keeping legacy systems running. Government IT teams sometimes need to scrounge for outdated parts on eBay. And we’ve all heard the story of the poster child for government IT modernization: the nation’s nuclear arsenal is controlled by an 8-inch floppy disk.

The modernization push

That’s why many government organizations are looking for ways to upgrade, integrate, or replace their legacy applications. The goal is to improve their public services.

In February, the U.S. government passed the Modernizing Government Technology Act, which gives federal agencies a pool of $500 million to borrow against to modernize their IT. As federal CIOs consider how to spend their piece of this pie, they need to think through the end-to-end approach they’ll use to modernize systems.

 Modernizing Legacy Mission-Critical Applications in Government

Challenges of government modernization

Most government systems are designed to deliver stable environments for slow-changing applications. The current focus is more on SLAs and cost. But in today’s digital world, things move much faster. You need to be able to develop and roll out new services quickly, in a fraction of the time you might have done in the past. You need to get to continuous delivery.

To go digital, you should start measuring your own agility differently and take a new stance on security and risk. Which often means you need to make deep changes to your systems, methods, and culture. This is no small task.

Strategies to modernize legacy applications

IT modernization means different things to different people. Some people think of it as merely moving legacy applications over to the cloud. Others take a broader view, where you look for ways to replace legacy applications entirely with newer alternatives. Or maybe it’s a mix of both tactics.

Government CIOs need to decide what IT modernization means for their organization—and for each of their applications. There are several approaches you can take. In its 2018 primer for modernizing government applications, Gartner breaks them down:

  • Completely replace all your existing applications with cloud-native commercial solutions
  • Upgrade or replace over time
  • Do a phased migration to the cloud
  • Use vendor solutions and services to recompile legacy code on newer, better supported technologies
  • Use a hybrid approach where you manage some applications on-premises and others in the cloud

Regardless of which approach you choose, this is a great opportunity to involve a vendor like Binary Tree.

How Binary Tree can help

Binary Tree can help you modernize legacy systems by moving to Microsoft. And we’ve worked with many federal, state, and local governments across the world to do just that. So we understand many of the unique considerations that come with these types of government projects.

We can help you:

  • Assess your software and systems and get them ready to migrate
  • Either do the migration for you or train you how to do it
  • Be on hand to fix any issues that come up during the migration
  • Drive user adoption through training and onboarding
  • Train your IT team to manage email and applications in the cloud

We often suggest that our government clients start by moving their email to Office 365. It’s a smaller effort that can help you work through any cultural or security concerns about the cloud. And in case you’re not already familiar with this, Microsoft offers several government plans for Office 365 that can help you meet compliance and security standards.

Get started

We’d be happy to talk more with you about what you need and how we can help. To get started, get in touch.


Source: Gartner. Modernizing Legacy Mission-Critical Applications in Government Primer for 2018. January 2018.