Critical Read

Study finds feds unprepared for looming network bottleneck

hands and cloud

What: A new Meritalk study titled "The Net of Federal Networks: Will You Survive the Big Five?"

Why: The study, underwritten by Brocade, suggests the "Big Five" of federal IT – data center consolidation, mobility, security, big data and cloud computing – will choke federal networks in the coming years if agencies are not prepared for the additional data and the complexity it brings.

Meritalk surveyed 200 federal IT decision-makers to determine whether agencies would seek "big value" or "big trouble" from the Big Five. The study suggests that the majority of federal agencies will have deployed initiatives in cloud, big data, data center consolidation, security and mobility by 2015, with cloud and big data generating the highest cause for concern. When polled, the majority of network managers – about 60 percent – said full-scale initiatives in the Big Five would put them at or over their agency's network capacities, meaning that even well thought-out deployment plans could not be implemented.

And in addition to challenges in bandwidth, latency and data storage, the study found agencies face another concern that trumps the rest: security. Seventy percent of the feds surveyed said security would be the biggest challenge as networks are put to the test in coming years, with growing amounts of data and services expected without the growing resources and budget requirements to go with it.

So what needs to be done?

Of those surveyed, 45 percent said their agencies are using the budget process to prioritize and pace implementation of each of the Big Five initiatives, while 35 percent are rolling up all five initiatives under one senior executive official.


•The majority of federal agencies are deploying or planning to deploy the Big Five –data center consolidation (DCC), mobility, security, big data, and cloud computing – within the next two years. But current networks won't survive the Big Five:

• If deployed today, four out of five (84 percent) federal network managers say their agency would be at risk for a network bottleneck.

• Network managers expect their agency's total network load to increase by 79 percent as a result of the Big Five.

•Just 12 percent say their agency network is completely prepared for the infrastructure requirements created by the Big Five.

• Network managers expect to transform almost half of their agency's total IT infrastructure between now and 2015.

• To prepare, some agencies are already starting to improve security measures, improving network policies, and adding bandwidth.

Download the full report here.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.


  • Cybersecurity
    Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lora Ratliff)

    Mayorkas announces cyber 'sprints' on ransomware, ICS, workforce

    The Homeland Security secretary announced a series of focused efforts to address issues around ransomware, critical infrastructure and the agency's workforce that will all be launched in the coming weeks.

  • IT Modernization
    Blue Signage and logo of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

    VA plans 'strategic review' of $16B software program

    New Veterans Affairs chief Denis McDonough announced a "strategic review" of the agency's Electronic Health Record Modernization program of up to 12 weeks.

Stay Connected