Executive Spotlight: Will Jones, Carahsoft SVP, Discusses Emerging Tech, Federal Modernization

WIll Jones
WIll Jones – SVP of Carahsoft

Will Jones, a senior vice president of Carahsoft, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz about information technology modernization, government agility and business continuity.

“We’ve never seen the public and private sectors work together more closely than they do today. I think that’s great, because industry can provide government agencies with a blueprint for faster innovation.”

ExecutiveBiz: Tell us a little bit about Carahsoft and how it helps federal agencies with their IT initiatives?

“Our job is to help government agencies find the best possible technologies at the best value. Since we work with both agencies and vendors, we have a deep understanding of the technologies that are available and government requirements and regulations, including procurement processes and federal mandates. Having that knowledge puts us in a unique position to effectively match technology solutions to government needs.”

ExecutiveBiz: Do you work with a lot of federal contracts? What strategies have proven most effective in driving contract growth?

“We do have direct contracts with some agencies, but for the most part, we work with an ecosystem of partners to support our government customers at the federal, state, and local levels, in addition to education and healthcare organizations. That ecosystem is our most valuable asset. As such, we’ve found that the best strategy is to continually strengthen our relationships with partners within that ecosystem while constantly keeping up with the unique mission needs of the public sector.”

ExecutiveBiz: What is the biggest challenge that government agencies face today and how does Carahsoft help organizations address this issue?

“The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is the ability to scale up and down as necessary, particularly during times of crisis like what we’re going through now. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of strain on government IT systems for everything from data management to remote work to cybersecurity and more. Many organizations weren’t prepared and are now struggling to stay connected and productive under these challenging circumstances.

Carahsoft and our partners are working hard to help government organizations manage this scalability challenge. For example, the remote workforce technologies that our partners provide have helped government agencies adapt to everyone suddenly working remotely. Things have changed remarkably in just a couple of short months, and the government, like everyone else, has needed to adapt and scale quickly. We’re connecting government with the best technologies to help them manage their current needs, but those solutions will also continue to benefit them when they move back to an office environment.”

ExecutiveBiz: To overcome these types of challenges, government agencies are undergoing rigorous transformation efforts. What’s your take on where things stand with regards to IT modernization?

“Traditionally, it’s taken a long time for federal agencies to implement changes. In the past, it has sometimes taken years to requisition new technologies. But that’s not the world we live in anymore. Our world requires more agility. Government agencies understand they need to shorten the timeframe it takes to procure and deliver solutions.

Fortunately, every government agency has a digital transformation plan. The OMB, GSA, Office of the CIO, and others have developed guidance on how to implement innovative technologies faster and more effectively.

Now, it’s time to start executing, but that’s easier said than done. Government agencies have invested years and millions of dollars into their existing technologies, and it’s not a simple lift-and-shift. At Carahsoft, our job is to help them securely and successfully migrate from these legacy systems toward modern applications and infrastructure and advanced techniques. If they can do that, they’ll be better positioned to serve their customers—U.S. citizens—now and in the future.”

ExecutiveBiz: But with the bureaucracy inherent in the government, is there a way to accelerate these changes?

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way—and there’s most certainly a will. Take a look at security and privacy, for instance. The cybersecurity landscape is changing every day. Who would have thought a few months ago that we’d be faced with hackers taking advantage of a global pandemic? And yet, here we are.

Clearly, the government needs to keep pace, and agencies have shown they can do that. For example, when FedRAMP was first implemented, the process was too slow, but the government made adjustments. Now, it’s much faster and forward-looking. So, although other nation states are accelerating their efforts in the cybersecurity arena, I believe we’ve established our dominance in that space. Now, the trick is to not let up.

The progress we’ve made is a direct result of the government working with the commercial sector and government contract communities. They’re providing the government with guidance on how to implement changes faster and better and expedite procurement processes. In fact, we’ve never seen the public and private sectors work more closely than they do today. I think that’s great, because industry can provide government agencies with a blueprint for faster innovation.”

ExecutiveBiz: The cloud is where much of that innovation is happening. What are some of the efforts that Carahsoft has made with regards to its cloud capabilities and offerings?

“We’ve got a very large cloud practice and work with some of the biggest players in the government space, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. They’re well known for their research and development efforts focused on the public sector, as well as their customer support.

All of our government customers are interested in modernizing their applications within the cloud and moving to multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments. Application development is moving toward those environments because they increase security, flexibility, and scalability. Since we have relationships with the world’s largest cloud providers, we’re able to connect these customers with the right platforms for their goals, whatever they may be.

At the end of the day, that’s our primary objective—making sure that government agencies have the right tools and solutions to achieve their mission requirements. Those requirements may be different tomorrow. But our focus on providing the public sector with the technology and know-how to support their needs will never waver.”

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