UPDATE
This is an urgent update, and I want you to click here.
November 5, 2020

Kevin Hansen, Chief Technologist at Micro Focus Government Solutions

...
...
...

Walter Sweat:

Hi everyone. My name is Walter sweat from a stadium where I am their CTO. I'd like to welcome you to today's edition of Walter's world, the podcast series. If you would like to watch any of our earlier podcasts, please look at any place where you would normally look for your podcast services, such as Spotify, Apple podcast, or Google podcast. Today. I'm delighted to have joined me, Kevin Hansen, who is the CTO for the Micro Focus government solutions group. Kevin, how are you doing today?

Kevin Hansen:

I'm doing great, Walter. Thanks.

Walter Sweat:

Well, I really appreciate you taking the time to be here with us today.

Kevin Hansen:

Absolutely, an honor. Thank you.

Walter Sweat:

Thank you. So Kevin, how long have you been with Micro Focus?

Kevin Hansen:

Oh, I guess it's going on 25 years now with the last 20 or so in the government group.

Walter Sweat:

Okay. So in the government group specifically, can you kind of describe what your organization does as part of the bigger Micro Focus picture? What is your major focus?

Kevin Hansen:

Yeah, sure. I appreciate that Walter micro Focus government solutions is a dedicated team to our, you know, federal state County and local governments. You know, we manage the business for Micro Focus of, of the government business. So that's across the enterprise dev ops hybrid, it operations, security, risk and governance and data analytics, software portfolios.

Walter Sweat:

Okay. Super well. That covers a lot of J area. Yeah, certainly. Yeah. Kevin, I would have to think when you consider public versus private enterprises and organizations, that there have to be some unique challenges that you see, especially for the government related environments related to technology. Could you talk a little bit about what you see for the organizations, with whom you work, what their specific overriding challenges are?

Kevin Hansen:

Yeah, thanks for that, Walter, you know, I think it does vary a bit between, you know, the federal government and state and local governments, you know, across the federal government. There's a big issue with the sustainment costs of their mission, critical applications. You know, so the challenge there is really about reigning in, what's almost a hundred billion dollars in federal it spending. It's a challenge for Congress. I think last year, the government accountability office released the report where they went out and assessed 98 large, you know, mission critical applications across the federal government and found that the sustainment costs were, you know, racking up about 80% it federal spending. So it's a significant challenge for agency CIO is to, you know, both run and sustain the mission as well as try to reduce these costs as they modernize their systems for the state and local agencies.

Kevin Hansen:

You know, the pandemic's just been devastating to their budgets. You know, I heard recently just on average across the States, their revenues are going to be down 20%. So as they look to address some of the challenges with their legacy applications, many of which we, we all kind of watched in real time, the challenges with those, you know, the, the ones we were still hear about are the unemployment insurance applications. You know, it's been hard to do a verification of identities, registration of new unemployed insurance, and then, you know, issue, issue checks and, and support to those folks, knowing that we're delivering those checks to the people who need it and not fraudsters who are coming in and trying to capitalize on, you know, on the crisis. So I think both across federal and state, you know, there's significant business challenges above and beyond just, you know, the sustainment challenges with the legacy stuff.

Walter Sweat:

Oh, that's certainly makes it, so this has been such a challenging last almost year now that having to respond to things that perhaps they've never had to before, I'm sure it's presented a numerable challenges that have made it quite challenging for them. Yeah,

Kevin Hansen:

Absolutely. You know, well, while this is happening, of course, you know, most of your workers are now working remotely, you know, which creates a whole nother layer of obstacles to, to tackle some of these challenges.

Walter Sweat:

Well, talking about that, and you know, if you look at how governments have had to respond differently, are there some best practices that you can think of that governmental leaders can use from a technology perspective to address these particular areas?

Kevin Hansen:

Abs absolutely. You know, first I think it starts with the recognition that you can't continue to do the same things and expect different outcomes. So, you know, we need to change the approach. We need a more pragmatic and measured approach that is going to address the cost challenges and reduce the sustainment costs are gonna address some of the risks associated with the current infrastructures and applications and really deliver, you know, a faster time to value so that you're able to, you know, scale and support, you know, in a more rapid fashion changing requirements around citizen services. So, you know, as part of application rationalization planning, you really need to perform detailed legacy application assessments. You need to fully understand, you know, all the dependencies and components of these applications so that you can, again, pragmatically, you know, start to modernize them, you know, not as a whole, but as you're able to, and as you're minimizing the risk in doing that activity,

Walter Sweat:

That certainly makes sense. So when we talk about the rationalization and looking at efforts of migration to you, Kevin, or what are the major benefits that your government C government customers see after they look at using micro-focus as migration opportunity?

Kevin Hansen:

Great, great question. You know, I can't emphasize enough the impact of leveraging data analytics on your legacy application, data sets as far as impacting mission outcomes that that delivers the most promise. And that's the biggest benefit. So, you know, incorporating data analytics, planning around your legacy application modernization [inaudible], you know, is the, sky's the limit. As far as the benefits you can achieve there to mission outcomes. You know, there are also other benefits. I mean, obviously we talked about the ability to reduce costs or the need to reduce costs. So, you know, taking these applications and re hosting them or replatforming on in the cloud, for example, drastically reduced the costs associated with these. And, and that's an enormous benefit because you can start taking the savings from that operational money and applying that towards data analytics towards other types of modernization. So, and, and that helps of course, over the long haul, mitigate those risks that are associated with those legacy applications, whether that's, you know, highly specialized operators and developers, or, you know, dependencies on the legacy infrastructure.

Walter Sweat:

Sure. Kevin, we had a stadium filled the same that being able to work with data in ways that you never really were able to before just completely opens up new possibilities for organizations. So I'm 100% in sync with you on that.

Kevin Hansen:

Ah, excellent. I mean, it's, it's amazing what can be achieved to your point, you know, whether it's making the application more efficient to users, so they're clicking less and having to do less within the application to accomplish what they want or, you know, more directly to the mission, you know, performing predictive analytics. So you can reduce outages either on the network or for other devices and equipment that you're managing. So your quality of service can up drastically it's, it's, it's,

Walter Sweat:

It's the antithesis of keeping doing things the way you've always been doing them. Isn't it. Or to look at doing things in a different way so that you served your constituencies, whoever that happens to be and a better

Kevin Hansen:

It's it's transformative, if you embrace it

Walter Sweat:

Agreed, agreed. You mentioned cloud, are you seeing that there are more governmental organizations who are considering cloud today than there were two or three years ago?

Kevin Hansen:

Yeah, absolutely. In fact, it's really, you know, cloud adoption and governments really ramped up. I think that's, you know, certainly because some of these cost benefits, but the capabilities in the cloud, you know, over the last five to 10 years really have exponentially evolved to a point where, you know, we can now exceed, you know, capabilities that we had on prem and really through the use of shared services in the cloud, which, you know, is an area in government that we've talked about for a long time, being able to leverage tshirt services across government agencies to make them more efficient. W that's been difficult to do because of the various, you know, different missions out there in different, obviously different infrastructure they have. But with cloud infrastructure, no services can be shared and leveraged, you know, which really makes the government more efficient.

Walter Sweat:

And the cloud is so much more of a robust alternative. In my opinion. Now I can't say that it's, we can't say it's not your grandfather's cloud, but it's maybe your father's, you're not having to worry about things have really changed. And the capability that there is there today is just amazing to me. Yeah,

Kevin Hansen:

It is incredible. You know, just from a performance standpoint, you know, the number of cores that a VM can support in the cloud is staggering. You know, which gives you your performance and throughput that just wasn't there at five to 10 years ago,

Walter Sweat:

Absolutely. Talking about grandfathers, have you found that there's been a challenge with retiring resources and governmental customers? How has that been an impact as people have looked at alternatives,

Kevin Hansen:

It's been a huge challenge. You know, we talk about these large critical mainframe applications. Well, in order to sustain these, you know, a lot of the development resources and system operators and programmers have simply retired in government, forcing government agencies to bring them back out of retirement, under contract. And that's really just to keep the lights on just a minimal number of resources to keep the lights on. So when changes in requirements come or, or, you know, the crisis a crisis comes along such as COVID, that requires, you know, changes to those programs, increase in scalability and demand for those, that type of processing. You know, it's a, it's a real bottleneck that hit us this summer. So it's a real challenge. There's, there's significant risk associated with losing those resources just to keep the lights on. So it's probably the biggest concern I would say for sustaining these applications.

Walter Sweat:

Agreed. So on the other side of that scale, we talked about retiring resources and doing things the way they've always been done before. And just trying to keep a minimum set of capabilities. If we look at the other side of the spectrum, are you finding government customers starting to be interested in newer technologies? I'll throw out a micro services as an example, is that something that people are starting to recognize as offering them huge advantages moving forward? Okay.

Kevin Hansen:

Yeah, absolutely. You know, you mentioned microservices specifically, and I think there, there are certainly some areas in government where they're, they're taking advantage of that. The challenge is getting the applications that have the most value within your organization. These, these critical mainframe applications into the cloud, where you can start to expose microservices in meaningful ways, ways that are going to impact the mission or, or make citizen services better. So, you know, we're, we're early on in that adoption, but the interest is there very much, the interest is there. And, and, and, you know, I talked about shared services in that context, you know, as applications and data move into the cloud, you know, I think the microservices that are going to be available across different agencies, across boundaries that, you know, impede on the sharing of services today, go away. And so, you know, developing catalogs and microservices that your, your agency counterparts can take advantage and share across all of the government. You know, that's going to be a huge impact and, and, and improvement do the efficiency of government.

Walter Sweat:

Absolutely. To me, it's kind of a best of both worlds scenario. If you take the, the logic that makes up these governmental systems that have been around for 20, 30, 40 years, they work and they define, you know, what organizations really can actually do. Being able to combine that with newer technologies, even if you're staying in COBOL, micro services, containerization, to me, it's the best of both worlds and being able to find that combination sure. Seems like it helps people.

Kevin Hansen:

I'm so glad you said that Walter, I mean, the resiliency of these applications is, is unmatched, right? Most of these applications have been around a long time. They're pan. The reason they're still here is because they're so resilient, they're so good at what they do. So being able to take that logic and leverage that on new platforms in containers, you know, exposing them as microservices. I, I couldn't agree more, you know, that that's really the, the path that we have to go down.

Walter Sweat:

I agree. I agree. So as people look at alternatives, I'm always curious about this, the organizations to whom you speak, do they tend to look at the alternative of big bang migration versus a phased migration as one, having a, a bigger advantage than another.

Kevin Hansen:

There's certainly still a mixed bag out there. As far as approaches. We do still see some big bang bang migrations, but one thing never changes with those. And that is the cost that is associated with those, you know, we're in the billions of dollars when we're talking large government legacy applications, you know, there's not a good track record around big bang migrations in government. So we'll see how those, how those evolve, but where we're seeing a lot of traction now. And, and a lot of folks, you know, really tying migration to cloud adoption is taking a more pragmatic, phased approach. You know, they're looking for the least cost, least risk and the fastest time to value that they can achieve for these applications. And, and it's forcing them to look at other alternatives. And that's where, you know, Micro Focus is standing by ready to help. You know, we provide tools that can help them identify first and foremost, identify kind of the blueprint of the application. So they know what they need to modernize and then be very pragmatic, very incremental from a cost standpoint and, and certainly taking the least risk by moving and modernizing those applications in the new environment.

Walter Sweat:

Sure. It makes sense to me to understand where you actually are starting from and a pragmatic approach of deciding how you're going to structure it is, has proven to be a key to success. I feel over the years.

Kevin Hansen:

Well, and honestly, you know, it gives you that realistic visibility into the project so that you always know where you're at in that modernization. Exactly. Sometimes these big banks, you know, there's so many parallel streams going on and, and you're rewriting a lot of the application. Maybe you're introducing new cots components. You know, it, it's, it's kind of a mess from a project management standpoint or from a business leader standpoint, to be able to report on the progress of those big bang projects. Whereas if you're, you know, being really incremental about that modernization and addressing the risk, you're getting, you're going to get that visibility that you need to then report accurately about that prog program so that when it comes to success. Absolutely. Walter, I agree with that.

Walter Sweat:

It's a lot easier to turn a thousand small ships than one big battleship, right? Yeah,

Kevin Hansen:

That's right.

Walter Sweat:

So, Kevin, I'm going to ask you to put on your Swami hat of, I asked you this question, if, if modernization is a journey and you're, you're helping your customers to find their roadmap, what do you think this is all going to look like five years from now?

Kevin Hansen:

That's a, that's an exciting question. I think, from where I sit, you know, if we think about from a technology standpoint, just take a step back and look around. I mean, we're, most of us are working from home. You know, you can order food from, from restaurants and grocery stores, it all gets delivered. You know, you do that on your phone, that stuff hasn't been around that long, you know, I think Uber eats launched in 2015, you know, Amazon received approval to deliver food and, and other items using drones, they received their approval from the FAA recently. You know, it's incredible where we're at. So, you know, space X is, is landing rockets, you know, on pads in the middle of the ocean. It's incredible. So, you know, as I relate this to, you know, the business of government it and where we're headed, you know, I think about data analytics and I think about internet of things and 5g and how we can leverage the data sets these valuable legacy application data sets in totally new ways and, and get to a point where we're able to release functionality.

Kevin Hansen:

It really innovative citizen services much, much faster. And with, with high quality. So, you know, the, again, the horizons kind of expansive in this area and, you know, depending on what your mission is and the data sets you have and, and the services that you're able to take advantage of in the next five years, you know, we've, we've got quantum computing right around the corner, you know, is that going to enhance our ability to, to process transactions and manipulate and analyze the data more quickly and efficiently so that we can deliver services faster with more quality to citizens. It's exciting. And I think we're already starting to see some, some benefits of that. You know, whether it's interacting with government applications, using two factor authentication with your smart phones, you know, more and more web services and, and mobile applications coming out to the market. So we're, we're already starting to see some of that, but as agencies are able to reduce their sustainment costs associated with these applications and take that savings and apply it towards these new technologies, you know, we're going to start rapidly seeing innovative new services being deployed by government agencies. So it's an exciting time,

Walter Sweat:

Certainly not going to be boring, isn't it?

Kevin Hansen:

It feels like it's accelerating. Anything else Walter?

Walter Sweat:

So Kevin, if our listeners wanted to reach out to you or Microfocus government solutions, how, how could they best do that?

Kevin Hansen:

Yeah, probably the easiest way is to just send an email to modernize@microfocusgov.com. Of course, people are always welcome to email me as well. kevin.Hansen@microfocusgov.com and we'll take it from there.

Walter Sweat:

Fantastic. Any parting thoughts you'd like to share with us? Anything that we didn't address that is near and dear to your heart?

Kevin Hansen:

You know, I, I, I guess I w one thing I didn't really address too much is how important it is now to align your enterprise DevOps initiatives. You know, usually in the distributed area with your legacy application development effort, you know, too, for too long, we've had siloed environments that have made it difficult to collaborate and, and, and difficult to normalize processes and language and, and everything else across your, all your development applications. So, you know, as kind of as a best practice, I would throw this in as well, take a step back and look at how you can align your mainframe environments, your legacy application development environments with your dev ops initiatives that you're, you're probably engaged in, in other areas. And I think when you're, when you're able to do that, you're going to realize that there's a faster time to value approach there in modernizing those applications,

Walter Sweat:

Focusing on dev ops, something that we do at Astadia. So we're firm believers in it as well. And I've seen huge benefits for organizations that can bring the mainframe dev ops world into that distributed or cloud dev ops world. So I am 100% in agreement with you.

Kevin Hansen:

Yeah. And, and, you know, that's why you guys are such a great partner, Walter, you know, we're in alignment, a lot of these things, but I think most importantly, our approaches are similar when we, when we go to work with our customers.

Walter Sweat:

Indeed, indeed. Kevin, thank you so very much for taking the time to be with us today. It was a pleasure as always, sir.

Kevin Hansen:

My pleasure, Walter, thank you for having me.

Walter Sweat:

Thank you. And for everyone else, if you have any questions, please reach out to us at www.astadia.com. And as I mentioned before, if you wanted to look at some of the previous podcasts or upcoming ones, a Spotify, Apple, and Google podcast, you will find them there. Thank you all so much for taking the time to join us today. And we look forward to seeing you on our next podcast, have a great rest of your day.