In a multi-layered bureaucracy such as the typical federal agency, there's also the practical challenge of disseminating the CIO's vision for transforming the data center and the various IT operations down through the ranks, House notes.
"The CIOs seem to have a very good strategy a high-level strategy of how to get to the objectives they're trying to achieve," he says. "But then how is that moved down the organization, down to the data center operators and data center managers?"
On the cultural side, some CIOs are warming to a shared services model, where one agency with a particular area expertise becomes a service provider to other agencies, further alleviating the data center burden. That effort, which runs counter to a long history of each agency going it alone in IT, seeks to avoid duplicative IT efforts by developing and sharing reusable applications and systems.
"We all can't be really good at everything," says Kimberly Hancher, CIO at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Within her agency, Hancher looks at litigation support software as a perfect candidate for the shared-service model.
"It's a very specialized set of software services, and I'd rather not build it and host it and figure it out myself," Hancher says. "I'd love to be a customer for that kind of shared services."
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