Managers concerned about IT budgets, cybersecurity

IT managers: The biggest threat to infrastructure isn't cyber

The biggest concern for the government IT infrastructure isn’t cybersecurity, but budget constraints, according to the recent Cisco Connected Government Study, which polled 400 federal, state and local IT managers about threats, funding and their familiarity with emerging technologies. The respondents cited:

  • Budget constraints  (35 percent)
  • Cybersecurity (17 percent)
  • Employee devices on the network (9 percent)
  • Increased demand for constituent services (8 percent)
  • Limited network bandwidth (6 percent)

The manager’s goals for the coming year reflect those concerns, with some difference between state and federal managers’ concerns.

Goal State Federal
Reducing costs
31 percent
25 percent
Improving security
14 percent
30 percent
Boosting efficiency
21 percent
18 percent
Improving delivery of services
18 percent
19 percent
Enhancing mobility
11 percent
7 percent
Don’t know
6 percent
1 percent

Budget concerns were especially felt among state and local respondents, the survey report said. State governments have dealt with fiscal crises for several years and now appear to be coming out of it, said Tony Morelli, a Cisco area vice president for state and local government and education.  State  IT managers have been investing in technology to help reduce IT costs for some time, he noted.

Budgets may be the biggest worry, but security is still important. Respondents said technology is the most effective way to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity posture, followed by better enforcement policies and employee training, and cybersecurity is still the top area managers want to invest in.

Although investment in the cloud is increasing, the majority of the IT managers are still lukewarm towards the approach. Eighty-one percent said they have either “great” or “some” confidence in the reliability of cloud computing, while 18 percent have “no confidence” or don’t know. Likewise with security in the cloud, about which 72 percent have either “great” or “some” confidence, and 22 percent have “no confidence.”

That response might seem like a contradiction, as agencies also seek to invest more in cloud technology. Technology complexity is driving up IT costs, especially as agencies have to hire more experts to manage their IT investments, Payne said, and cloud would seem like the ideal platform to help meet business objectives. Many federal agencies have invested in private clouds because of security concerns.

However, confidence in the public and hybrid clouds will increase as large-scale projects such as the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise — which offers a common cloud infrastructure for all of the 17 intelligence agencies — unfolds, the Cisco officials noted.

In the emerging area of software-defined networking, 65 percent of those surveyed said they are familiar with SDN and 58 percent of those familiar with it expect the technology will become a viable solution within their organizations in the next few years.  SDN automates routine networking tasks and can instruct the infrastructure to do what is best to support an application. 

Meanwhile, 42 percent of respondents are familiar with the Internet of Things, the rise of objects and sensors that can be connected to the Internet, from cars to heart monitors to stoplights. IT managers familiar with the concept say it could enable the delivery of new services, streamline processes or reduce costs. Health care IT and Defense Department supply chains are some areas where IOT could be useful, Payne noted. The Internet of Things will drive agencies’ move to IPv6 given the large volume of connections and security complexity it will generate, Payne said. And the data generated by Internet-connected devices could drive further interest in big data analytics.

Clarus Research performed the survey for Cisco, conducting online interviews and phone interviews of 400 government IT managers — 200 from federal, 200 from state and local — between Sept. 3 and 13.


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