Public Sector Newsletter: Welcome to 2020!


Tech Data Completes Acquisition of DLT Solutions

Acquisition brings new high-quality growth opportunities for partners in the U.S. public sector.

CLEARWATER, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE) --Tech Data (Nasdaq: TECD) today announced it has completed its acquisition of DLT Solutions, a premier software and cloud solutions aggregator focused on the U.S. public sector. 

DLT Solutions is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Tech Data and complements the company’s existing public sector business with additional expertise and resources to accelerate growth and streamline existing complexities for channel partners serving the U.S. public sector space.

“We are excited to welcome DLT Solutions to Tech Data and are confident that this acquisition will provide higher-value solution offerings to our partners, helping them to build their businesses while advancing our strategy and footprint in the U.S. public sector marketplace,” said Joe Quaglia, president, Americas, Tech Data. “With this transaction now complete, Tech Data will be able to provide an even greater level of sales enablement and proactive opportunity development for our channel partners.”

Through the combination of Tech Data and DLT Solutions, channel partners will have access to a broader portfolio of leading technologies, an extensive array of in-house public sector contract vehicles, and dedicated channel and enablement services. DLT also bolsters Tech Data’s technology expertise across six core areas: Application Lifecycle, Big Data and Analytics, Business Applications, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, and IT Infrastructure.


The Year Ahead: 2020 Cloud Vision

In 2019, new policy fueled cloud growth and pushed federal agencies to modernize and transform technologically, especially in areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). “Updated, relevant policy can drive real transformation,” said Federal CIO, Suzette Kent

The 2019 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy shifted from Cloud First to Cloud Smart, by implementing guidelines for procurement, the workforce and security. This new policy helps agencies to keep up with innovation and drives best practices. 

Other progressive policies included OMB’s update to the Trusted Internet Connection 3.0 (TIC) initiative, which removes the cloud barriers agencies face and modernizes agency efforts. These 2019 policies are motivating federal agencies to continue transforming in 2020. 

The Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) encourages federal agencies to consolidate and optimize existing government-run data centers and move toward the cloud. The FITARA scorecard holds agencies accountable for implementing DCOI as a featured category for scoring. The ninth scorecard was released in December, grading 10 agencies with an “A,” three with a “B,” three with a “C,” five with a “D,” and three “F” grades. The House Oversight Government Operations Subcommittee believes that these low scores reflected the 2019 OMB revised guidelines, which were not clear about what constitutes a data center.

New legislation will hopefully push more agencies to utilize cloud and modernize in 2020, especially hybrid cloud and AI.

What can you expect in 2020?

In 2020, we expect hybrid cloud use to grow due to benefits like improved performance, reduced costs and improved efficiency. Hybrid technology involves adapting from a single cloud to a combination to increase flexibility and security, for example, allowing IT managers to manage sensitive or secretive data agencies often handle. In a recent study, 75% of Federal agencies reported that managing a multi-cloud environment would be a top challenge in the next five years.

Another 2020 trend in the Federal vertical will be AI. AI has the potential to transform government operations to focus on specific mission-critical tasks. We’re excited to see how AI and machine learning continue to evolve and impact agencies in 2020. Cyberattacks are increasing and protecting data through innovative cybersecurity tactics like Zero Trust will be more important than ever.

We’re looking forward to the new year and ready to help you win more business within the public sector by sharing the latest information on key federal, state and local trends, topics and news.


4 Modernization Best Practices for Federal Government

Many people would define "IT modernization" as the attempt to bring technology up to today's needs and standards, but it's so much more than that. First, that definition implies that administrators' modernization efforts will eventually reach a definitive conclusion, when in fact this work will continue ad infinitum. Second, modernization must be about more than just technology. Agencies must also update the processes they use to support, manage and implement their technological endeavors -- from the ways they train and educate employees to how different teams work together.

Here are four best practices that federal IT administrators can adopt to keep their eyes on the future and effectively support their agencies' long-term modernization initiatives.

1. Focus on people and processes, not just technology

The federal government itself looks at modernization as more than just technology. In the section on modernization and maturity, the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy prioritizes the need for improved processes and a well-trained workforce. Indeed, "workforce" is listed as one of the three pillars of successful cloud adoption. The Trump administration's Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence also emphasizes the need for a highly skilled workforce, as does a recent EO calling for an increase in cybersecurity skills.

Agencies must invest in training on the new technologies they deploy. Today, that most certainly means containers, cloud technologies, cybersecurity and perhaps artificial intelligence. Tomorrow, it will likely mean serverless computing, deep learning and whatever comes next.

Establishing processes that support these new technologies can help agencies and their newly retrained teams become more nimble and familiar with collaborative environments. For example, agile development processes and DevOps are elemental to creating containerized applications and are therefore essential to modernization, as they accelerate application development and provide opportunities for collaboration. Furthermore, containers break applications down into smaller, loosely coupled chunks and move from modern n-tier applications to microservices, which can more easily be refactored, expanded and deprecated. This can enable agencies to move fast with minimal breakage.

2. Automate as much as possible

But what happens when employees leave to join other organizations or retire? Agencies need a way to preserve workers' knowledge and pass it along to others.

Automating as many processes as possible can help to address this challenge. For example, system configurations can be documented in a human- and machine-readable manner. That way, new employees do not have to manually reconfiguring their agencies' systems.

Automation can have many other benefits. Disaster recovery and security responses can be deployed with minimal human intervention. Application development processes can be automated to reduce technical debt. And automation can help free up talent to focus more on mission-critical projects.

3. Adopt a hybrid or multi-cloud approach

Some of those projects undoubtedly involve migrating applications and infrastructure to the cloud, something that organizations are doing more frequently. Gartner forecasts the worldwide public cloud services market will grow to $214.3 billion in 2019, up 17.5% from 2018.

But while migrating to the public cloud can help organizations gain greater efficiencies, long-term cost reductions are not guaranteed. Public cloud services can have a low barrier of entry, but the egress costs can be higher than IT professionals might anticipate. Once they move their data into the cloud, it can be time-consuming and expensive to move it out.

Rather than go all-in on the public cloud, many organizations are investing in a hybrid or multicloud approach. Adopting such an approach can help agencies fulfill the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy's call to "move to the cloud according to their mission needs." Agencies can avoid vendor lock-in and enjoy the ability to transfer workloads between clouds as necessary. They can also save money while taking advantage of the different features and capabilities of various cloud providers and running workloads wherever it's most appropriate and cost-effective.

4. Consider commercially-supported open source

To facilitate application portability between clouds, agencies should consider building their environment on top of a platform-agnostic open-source substrate. But which one to choose? How to tell if it's secure or in compliance with government standards?

Agencies should seek out partners that work directly with open-source communities and have experience turning projects into products. These organizations make open-source code enterprise-ready through user-friendly interfaces and authoritative, hardened security components and guidance. Managers should look for vendors with government certifications and accreditations, such as FIPS-validated cryptography and adherence to U.S. government repositories of publicly available security checklists like those provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Working with partners that are well-versed in the intricacies of open source and government requirements -- and are effecting change in open source to meet those requirements -- can be a powerful collaboration for the modernization journey.

A willingness to be open is the key to successfully navigating that journey. Agencies must have open organizational processes that enables people to grow. Meanwhile, open-source technology can provide an underlying infrastructure that helps them keep stepping toward the future.

About the Author
David Egts is chief technologist, North America Public Sector, Red Hat.


Get Strategic With SLED: Led by the Channel Experts

There are many fresh opportunities in 2020, but preparedness is key. When you are presented with a long list of advanced solutions and programs which align to the futuristic trends and obstacles within the industry, how do you keep up?

We’re glad you asked! The dedicated Public Sector team at Tech Data is staffed with industry experts to help enable your team, strategize on custom paths to market and boost business with our marketing support.

Our team will work with you to strengthen your go-to market strategy by analyzing your business to identify gaps, and then present a strategic plan that will help you effectively and efficiently grow your book of business in the SLED market. We pride ourselves on taking the time to understand the business obstacles you’re facing, which allows us to cater our value proposition specifically to your business model.

Here are a few areas of expertise our team is fully equipped to dive deeper with you on!

Digital transformation is inevitable! It’s crucial that you have a strategy in place that allows for your company to adapt quickly to technological advancements We can educate and enable you to be prepared on emerging trends within the SLED space.

Another critical topic is Security! There are daily stories involving data breaches and cyber-attacks, and you may have even fallen victim to an attack within your own network. We have the expertise and resources to help you address future security challenges.

Article 4_SLED Busniess Growth (graph).pngWhile companies and organizations integrate new technologies and business automation, cyber-attacks are targeting users, networks and applications faster than ever. Unfortunately, the education space is a large target for cyber criminals due to the amount of personal identifiable information required by schools. In K-12 and higher education, there are more devices per user than ever before which creates an increased attack surface increasing vulnerability.

As the trusted advisors in the SLED vertical, it is our responsibility to educate you on the modern-day challenges and help identify risk within your current architecture. We welcome the opportunity to discuss operational integration, IoT, gamification, integrated learning and more with your team.

Article 4_Top 2020 SLED Trends (graph).pngWant to know more? Contact Kaitlyn Llomas at [email protected].

About the Author
Kaitlyn Llomas is a Business Development Representative with the Public Sector team focused on SLED at Tech Data. She has an in-depth knowledge of the SLED industry across multiple vendor lines with a strong focus on E-rate. Kaitlyn is currently pursuing an education in Business Management and has multiple certifications to demonstrate her skill set.


Implementation Best Practices: Giving Medical Devices, IoT Special Attention

Three medical device technology experts from GE Healthcare, BioSig Technologies and Advantech offer comprehensive advice on best practices for healthcare organizations launching new medical devices.

Medical devices are key pieces of the health IT puzzle, technology that helps deliver patient care at one of the most critical junctures.

There are many types of medical devices. And the number is increasing as the Internet of Things proliferates, adding more and more connected devices to a provider organization’s IT infrastructure.

Especially because of that explosion of IoT devices, implementing medical device technology at hospitals and health systems has become a delicate and important process that must be done correctly. Here, three medical device technology experts offer advice and tips on how to best implement medical devices at a healthcare provider organization.

Look Beyond Medical Devices

When implementing new connected technology, it is important that healthcare CIOs not look at the medical device or software alone, said Ehren Powell, CIO at GE Healthcare, a vendor of medical device, imaging and other health technology.

“The CIOs need to think beyond the technology and consider the larger outcomes they are responsible for driving – including patient outcomes, workflow goals of the clinical staff, as well as quality measures and cybersecurity needs of other hospital staff,” he said. “Any new device or technology must enable these outcomes, and CIOs should build their strategies based on these goals. It comes back to people, process and technology.”

CIOs should take a system view – not a “box by box” or single-device approach, Powell advised. For example, CIOs need to lead a “one team” approach of IT and biomedical engineering to optimize outcomes, cost, patient safety and security, he said.

“As connectivity has increased, the traditional approach of considering perimeter security as adequate to mitigate clinical environment security has changed significantly,” he explained. “With this in mind, a more holistic approach is needed to design for security with tight integration between traditional IT and biomedical engineering to provide enterprise-level security, while also addressing the nuances specific to clinical assets or environments.”

Keep Focused on Evolving Needs, Especially Security

On another note, it is important to pick trustworthy vendors that are focused on digital evolution but are also significant industry players with a commitment to security, Powell added.

“Ensure your vendor has a robust cybersecurity program around developing new products, and continues to modernize connectivity infrastructure,” he said. “Look toward the future; find a trusted partner with products that provide traditional capabilities – but also leverages next-gen AI capabilities to improve clinical and operational workflows that you don’t currently use.”

Powell added that GE Healthcare sees a range in capabilities and sophistication across its healthcare clients globally – from clients with limited dedicated IT resources to those with significant teams, including specialist staff focused solely on the clinical network and assets.

“A large health system in Europe, for example, has a unified technology approach that enables integrated view of assets, as well as KPIs, at both the hospital and asset level that combine patient safety and efficiency in its strategy,” said Powell.

“In the U.S., a health system CIO we work with has wired and wireless network specialists that stay current on the latest technologies and are responsible for technology implementations. The team also works with the clinical staff to meet workflow outcomes, technical outcomes and cost goals.”

Learn More by Analyzing Data from External Sources

“We feel that a lack of detailed, neutral information about new technologies and proposed benefits can be a real barrier to effective adoption,” said Londoner. “It is advisable for the hospital leaders to analyze manuscripts or clinical data published by external sources.

“It is also important to learn more about the vendors,” he said. “Their overall development path, the expertise of their management and clinical teams, diversity of their clinical partners, long-term goals and objectives, and financial security all will play an important part in assessing the sustainability of the business.”

Many technology purchases also are driven by physicians’ preferences, especially those who are responsible for substantial volumes of admissions, he added. Understanding the basis for any such physician preferences can be highly valuable, he said.

“And I would add that any purchasing decisions should be integrated into the long-term strategy of the hospital in question, be it driving patient volumes, shortening procedure times, or reducing the costs of procedures,” Londoner said. “Staying focused on these goals should help the decision makers source the most important information about the vendors’ technologies and ultimately make the right purchasing decision for their centers.”

Sound Cybersecurity Processes Are Essential

CIOs and IT departments have not traditionally been involved in decisions involving medical devices such as surgical instrumentation or anesthesia machines. However, with the dawn of the Internet of Things, most medical devices now feature network connectivity, which brings forward a host of security and compatibility concerns for CIOs.

"We feel that a lack of detailed, neutral information about new technologies and proposed benefits can be a real barrier to effective adoption." - Ken Londoner, BioSig Technologies

“Unsecured, or poorly secured medical devices put patients and healthcare providers at risk if those devices are hacked, posing a threat to PHI,” said Tim Mitchell, vertical sales manager, iHealthcare, at Advantech, a digital healthcare technology company. “The average hospital potentially has thousands of connected medical devices that could pose a significant risk.”

Mitchell offers two best practices to implement when adopting new medical devices. First, security risk audits performed by IT should be a standard part of the evaluation process for any new medical device or equipment, he said.

“The software these devices run needs to be documented to understand what is needed to mitigate any security risks such as ransomware,” he advised. “What is the software update process and timeline? What is the lifecycle of the software, and how long can the manufacturer support software updates versus how long the healthcare provider plans to utilize the device?”

For instance, will IT have access to perform updates and security patches themselves, or is only the manufacturer able to perform updates? These are examples of questions that need to be part of the audit, he said.

And a second-best practice: CIOs should demand specific security provisions and language in any connected medical device contract, Mitchell said. “Furthermore, the contract should address any concerns from the security audit,” he concluded.

By Bill Siwicki
Healthcare IT News
Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: [email protected]