Pat Tracey serves as vice president of homeland security and defense for HP Enterprise Services‘ U.S. public sector business and also leads the unit’s work with the Justice Department.
The 34-year Navy veteran and retired vice admiral joined HP Enterprise Services in 2006 when it was known as EDS and also oversees the business’ services to Pentagon agencies such as the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and Defense Information Systems Agency.
Tracey recently caught up with ExecutiveBiz to discuss what kind of demand HP expects to see from federal agencies in cloud computing and mobile technologies, how security factors into those areas and her perspective on the business unit’s evolution from EDS into what is now known as HP Enterprise Services.
ExecutiveBiz: What was the most significant GovCon market trend that you observed last year?
Pat Tracey: The most significant trend is the continued increasing emphasis on small business prime opportunities in increasingly large and complex opportunities. There is a shift to a focus of enabling greater participation in a more significant role for small businesses.
ExecutiveBiz: What type of demand does HP anticipate in IT services this year?
Pat Tracey: There are a couple of trends in my particular focus area around Homeland Security, Defense and Justice. These agencies face intense budget pressures this year and for the foreseeable future and their emphasis is on managing IT spend more aggressively than it has been in the past. Most of our customers need to identify ways to reduce IT spend while their users face an accelerating demand for information and IT support.
As a consequence, many of our customers are looking at opportunities to leverage the new technologies like cloud and big data analytics so that they can extract value out of the multiple sources of information they have access to and do that with lower costs, quicker response times and less requirement to own everything.
Second, everything is going mobile. Operating in a mobile-based environment changes the way one thinks about IT infrastructure and IT services. In order to effectively gain agility, speed of response and flexibility, mobile concepts must be allowed to permeate everything about the IT environment.
Lastly, everybody is intensely focused on security. DoD and DHS are migrating to a risk-based management of their information security and placing focus on less of a periodic inspection of compliance and more of a continuous monitoring and management of compliance. Everyone recognizes that these standards will continue to change as the threat environment continues to be dynamic.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you see the cloud computing market shaping itself in 2015?
Pat Tracey: In 2015 most of our customers are not yet making the big migration to the cloud that they expected to make. There is a lot more sophisticated understanding of what it takes to do that migration and the awareness of what’s going to work well in the cloud. For things that won’t work well in the cloud, customers are choosing between the modifying them or keeping them in a more traditional setting. Customers are becoming increasingly aware of managing migration factors.
Since cloud migration will not likely be similar to flipping a switch to turn the cloud as the platform for operations instantaneously, most customers will land in a hybrid cloud environment at some point in the future. People are beginning to come to terms with a need for an architecture and a roadmap plan to manage a migration. Neither of these will be instantaneous.
It is going to take time and effort to make migration occur in keeping with declining budgets and without resulting in any disruption to services, which is important. Most people don’t run applications that can afford to incur outages while making undergoing a migration. This year, people are beginning to grapple with the pragmatic and practical aspects of creating and executing a detailed plan to achieve the cloud strategy that they’ve been contemplating for a while.
ExecutiveBiz: What steps should agencies take to acquire commercial technologies like cloud and mobile?
Pat Tracey: It is rare that an effective cloud strategy manifests itself as a product. Moving into a cloud implies things about what you are willing to do to adapt your business processes to the cloud environment. It involves thinking about security in a cloud environment that is probably different from a way that you have thought about it in a private dedicated traditional environment.
In the case of public cloud services, very large cost savings that are expected in those public cloud environments come with the willingness to accept very standardized solutions with limited variability across the customer base. Users need to understand what parts of their business or mission can actually exist on that fairly standardized platform and where they will need some tailoring and additional services wrapped around the public cloud services.
This is indicative of thinking about these not as products but as different solution approaches to the business or missions needs and of the understanding that is required to achieve the expected value out of these new styles of IT support.
ExecutiveBiz: How would you describe the evolution of EDS into HP Enterprise Services?
Pat Tracey: It takes a great amount of concentrated leadership and forward-leaning, forward-looking approaches to the business. The power of HP Enterprise Services versus EDS lies in keeping the very best of the entity that invented shared services models and coupling it with powerful technical underpinnings of Big HP.
It has brought together ability for HP Enterprise Services to bring to our customers the deep customer intimacy by combining the relationships of EDS and powerful best-in-class technologies of HP while preserving the ability to integrate the technologies across the industry.
It puts a fair amount of effort to keep the wide vendor knowledge that characterizes HP Enterprise Services and combine that in the way that most benefits our customers with the best-in-class technologies that HP brings to the table as a hardware and software manufacturer. It has been interesting to witness and be a part of the evolution of giving more value to our customers today than when we were a stand-alone services company of EDS.