How to Accelerate IT Modernization for the Public Sector



On-ramp to a highway

Just as in private industry, public sector entities are betting on cloud for IT modernization and digital innovation. However, compared with their counterparts, public sector organizations are more likely to hold back due to concerns about legacy IT debt along with security and compliance.

Archana Vemulapalli, former CTO for the Washington, D.C., government and now CTO and general manager of IBM Global Technology Services Infrastructure Service offerings, waded in on how Kyndryl's Managed Private Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service[1] addresses those obstacles to accelerate public sector cloud migration.

Q: In your experience as the former CTO of Washington, D.C., what challenges does public cloud present to public sector entities as they embark on IT infrastructure modernization?

A: I think the primary issue with the public sector’s adoption of cloud is the dependence on legacy systems and the associated technical debt, which creates a barrier to innovation. If you look at cloud as merely a migration tactic, you don’t get the efficiencies. The entire construct of centering your core technology transformation and business transformation around the cloud model is about really doing a transformation narrative, not a shift narrative.

Q: What specific security and compliance challenges are unique to the public sector as they relate to building out a hybrid cloud infrastructure?

A: Security is probably front and center for every industry but even more so for the public sector, because they are continually being targeted with data breaches and cybercrime. They also have data privacy issues. Historically, the lens was that security was a major inhibitor for cloud adoption. But inherently, the newer technologies drive a better security posture. So what used to be looked at as an inhibitor for cloud adoption is now becoming an accelerator.

Q: How does Kyndryl's Managed Private Cloud IaaS address these challenges—and help public sector entities manage hybrid cloud migration?

A: Managed Private Cloud IaaS brings on-premises and cloud together in a way where you get the construct of a cloud operating model for innovation but you move the organization out of the headache of day-to-day management of that infrastructure.

Q: What are the core capabilities public sector organizations should consider as they evaluate managed IaaS providers and solutions?

A: The first would be talent and reputation—specifically, the organization’s ability to scale and deliver these models. The second would be cost structure and dynamics, meaning how quickly I can switch from CapEx to OpEx. Finally, what are the SLAs [service-level agreements] and what outcomes will they give me? The biggest overlay for me is if I am spending 20% of my time worrying about infrastructure and I can free that up and redirect talent and time to other core problems, that is tremendous.

Q: What three pieces of advice will streamline the cloud migration and modernization process?

Make sure business outcomes are tied to the technology outcomes. Focus on prioritization—what the most important applications that can benefit from a flexible consumption model and modernization are. One thing the pandemic taught us is that those that jumped in and leveraged cloud’s value were able to address client demands with ease. Those that didn’t saw revenue loss, security issues, and all kinds of other problems. My advice to CIOs is, Lean forward, don’t lean back.

Archana Vemulapalli is responsible for IBM GTS’ offering strategy, development and management. She leads a global team delivering agile and intelligent technology solutions for public and private sector clients in support of their digital and cloud transformation. She is also part of the core leadership team responsible for defining the mission and growth plan for IBM Global Technology Services and Kyndryl, a planned spin-off recently announced by IBM; which is by far the global leader and innovator in managed infrastructure services.

For more information on Kyndryl's Managed Private Cloud IaaS, visit

[1]Kyndryl is currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Business Machines Corporation with the intent that Kyndryl will be spun-out.