IT consolidation brings benefits, challenges

Federal IT managers recognize the importance and potential benefits of infrastructure consolidation, but are concerned about giving up control of their systems.

In a new survey of 101 federal IT workers by Mercury Interactive Corp. of Sunnyvale, Calif., 59 percent said IT consolidation was important or very important to their agency, and 70 percent said their agency could benefit from consolidating their infrastructure.

The reasons for consolidation, according to the respondents, are potential for cost savings (59 percent), federal mandates (50 percent) and the ability to reduce redundancies (42 percent).

With federal mandates such as the Office of Management and Budget's Lines of Business Consolidation initiatives and Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12, 55 percent of those surveyed said their biggest concern was loss of control. The fear of a slow application or poor performance also worried 51 percent of the respondents. Respondents were told to mark all the answers that apply, which is the reason the percentages total more than 100.

'When you look at the dynamics of going through a consolidation, what is underlying in all of these metrics is the risk, and it manifests in different ways,' said Simon Berman, senior director for product marketing for Mercury. 'Agencies are worried about providing the service to the user, and poor performance or slow applications are big risks.'

IT managers also agreed that the inability to get an independent third party to verify the application's performance, the lack of visibility into the consolidation process, and the ability to maintain application availability and performance were the three biggest challenges.

Fifty percent of the respondents said the cross-agency initiatives were the biggest challenges they face, while 47 percent said the business and culture changes were.

'It is the fear of uncertainty,' Berman said. 'Not only does IT have internal challenges, but external ones as well. For many of the employees, they are going through these consolidation efforts for the first time, and people are generally unsure what this means from an organizational standpoint for them personally.'

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