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Digital transformation is happening all around us: for every business sector, across every type of organization. For government agencies, keeping up with digital transformation is riskier due to the large number of legacy systems still in use. Government risk management and digital transformation go hand-in-hand.
In this blog, we'll explore the most common risks agencies face during a digital transformation, and highlight government risk management strategies specifically for public sector IT and infrastructure.
Government risk management is an agency’s plan for responding to dangers to the well-being of its citizens. For IT, it can include compliance, system hardening, and more.
The COVID-19 pandemic moved up the timeline for digital transformation projects considerably. Improvements that may have been slated for months or years down the line quickly became mission-critical, as the workforce moved to telework and services previously performed in-person moved online. It suddenly turned into a mad dash to modernize as soon as possible.
Government agencies are susceptible to all the same information technology risks as other enterprise IT. Government IT is unique in the amount of oversight, visibility, and regulation that comes with handling sensitive citizen and community information.
Below are some of the most common types of risk government agencies and contractors face in managing their IT:
Most federal agencies have highly complex IT environments with hundreds – if not thousands – of legacy systems working together. Deploying even one new system or upgrading an existing one brings substantial risk. One configuration error in any system could negatively impact mission-critical applications.
Of course, government digital transformation requires deploying, upgrading, and adapting almost all of that infrastructure as part of a concerted effort to modernize. It’s a delicate balance, for sure – and without an effective deployment platform, the risks are even greater.
Transformation never comes without discomfort, and government digital transformation carries unique challenges and risks. Your readiness for digital transformation depends on your ability to handle them.
To mitigate risk, federal agencies typically standardize OS and application configurations to improve efficiency and reduce risk. But manual configuration means hours doing tedious work that could be better spent on high-priority projects. That’s not to mention the fact that every OS requires a specific knowledge base, meaning your IT operations team must have a thorough knowledge of every OS.
Some of the most common roadblocks to digital transformation for government agencies include:
Along with a strong digital transformation strategy, automation can help you bring those challenges under control. Here’s how.
Legacy System Integration
Existing government systems and infrastructure aren’t often compatible with new technologies. Modernizing them can take time, money, and expertise you might not have.
Automation standardizes data migration and API development to create functionality between systems. Then, it can synchronize data between systems to enable real-time updates.
Resistance to Change
Longer-term team members are used to the way things are done. They might not be excited about the idea of
Automation can get your team all on the same page and pull them out from the mire of rote tasks.
Using new tech means developing new skills to use them – skills existing teams don’t always have yet.
Automation can level the playing field by shortening onboarding and empowering IT ops to do more themselves.
Digital transformation isn’t always cheap, and your budget isn’t getting any bigger.
Automation shrinks your time to value with new technologies by automating repetitive, time-consuming processes.
Compliance, Security, and Privacy
Complying with DISASTIG, data protection regulations, PII privacy standards, security protocols, and more all involve time and effort to achieve, maintain, and prove.
With public sector automation, compliance policies can be enforced as code, taking the manual work off your plate. RBAC, zero-trust, and other IT security measures can also be powered by automation.
A lack of reliable, resilient infrastructure and automated processes means rework, delays, and overruns.
Automated configuration management integrates change management with other control processes for smoother, more efficient work.
Using Puppet for government risk management means quicker deployments with reduced risk.
Customers that switched to Puppet Enterprise saw an average deployment frequency improvement of 2.5 times. Deployments that used to take months to complete can now be done in hours.
But moreover, Puppet understands what’s at risk when deploying and what can happen when a configuration fails. Puppet Enterprise reduces the uncertainty of deployments and enables IT managers to launch new or upgraded systems with confidence. It takes the guesswork out of digital transformation, reduces cost, and frees up IT departments to spend more time developing and less time deploying.
After a one-time setup and deployment, you can rest easy knowing that systems will remain stable. Subsequently, you can automate repetitive tasks and continually reinforce desired state to manage drift. Then, Puppet Enterprise performs checks regularly to ensure compliance.
Puppet Enterprise also includes Impact Analysis. IT administrators can use the platform to test the potential impact of changes without risking infrastructure. Removing uncertainty makes integrating or upgrading systems much easier. Impact Analysis tells administrators what will happen when a system is deployed, how it will impact IT infrastructure, and why it’s happening.
Rapid modernization is essential to supporting your mission. However, mission continuity is equally critical. A modern automation platform can help with efficient delivery of both new applications and systems, while mitigating risk to mission-critical systems – like noncompliance.
U.S. government agencies are often required to align with DISA STIGs and CIS Benchmarks. Puppet Comply uses the official CIS-CAT Pro Assessor to evaluate the state of infrastructure compliance. Compliance Enforcement Modules (CEMs) in Puppet Comply leverage Puppet’s configuration management capabilities to continuously enforce both CIS and DISA STIGs in your infrastructure.
🇬🇧 Is your Cyber Essentials compliance on track? Get our guide to start automating configuration, RBAC, patching, and more to comply with the UK framework >>
But setting and forgetting doesn’t quite cut it for government risk management in IT. Achieving compliance with either of these standards requires a deep understanding of them, and a willingness to review and adapt your desired state as they evolve. Puppet Comply and CEMs are frequently updated to incorporate the most recent benchmarks and guides to help you maintain a compliant desired state – and Comply allows you to dial in your desired compliance with exception tracking and custom rules down to the node level.
🇦🇺 ANZ-based? Or doing business there? Learn more about using Puppet for ACSC Essential 8 compliance >>
Puppet understands government risk management pain points and how automation can help ease them without slowing down innovation. Government agencies and contractors rely on Puppet Enterprise to effectively and intelligently automate system configurations across thousands of servers without needing hundreds of hours of manual work. This reduced burden means IT staff can be redeployed to more strategic efforts and agency-wide digital transformations can be accomplished faster and more effectively.
Get a demo of Puppet products for your government IT infrastructure management – or contact us for more information about building a public sector automation fabric that builds both flexibility and resilience into your digital infrastructure.
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Senior Director of Product Marketing, Puppet by Perforce
Robin Tatam (CISM CPFA CTSP CTMA PCI-P) is a Product Marketer at Puppet by Perforce, where he promotes the benefits of managing compliance using Puppet. Prior to his role with Puppet, Robin worked as a Security Evangelist, and was a globally recognized SME and five-time IBM Champion. Robin also loves travel and cultural exploration, is an accomplished photographer, and considers himself an amateur mixologist.