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.

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Reader comments

Thu, Sep 12, 2013

Obviously the Feds are doing something, not private industry, if they see a need to change their systems. Otherwise, they could just keep on doing what they are doing in the same manner as now with what they got. So I do not see how they could be "not responsible for the so-called Big Five". Industry responds to the needs or desires of their clients. They can offer something different, but it is the customers (in this case the Feds) decisions on what they actually buy.

Thu, Sep 12, 2013 Washington, DC

The federal government is not responsible for the so-called "Big Five". It is private industry which is pushing this, supposedly to save money by digitaling everything. So the problem is not the federal government. The "Big Five" is a poor methodology, and not needed for every problem we face, because it is industry objectives which populates the notion, and not personal obligations or environments.

Thu, Sep 12, 2013

I think some people need to stand back and look a bit more at the big picture here to see the whole problem. If all of these advances are to increase the efficiency of the government, why are they saying that "their agency's total network load to increase by 79 percent as a result of the Big Five" but no mention of any benefits? Is this really an improvement from what the Fed has now? Is the Big Five really solving problems or just creating another set of them? I do not claim to have the answers, but having been around for over a half a century I would think that implementing new technology uses should go about reducing problems. But from the sound of this article it appears that the Big Five is increasing them. Maybe something is missing from the article because I would hope that there is a very good reason to implement something new like this and that there should be more than enough benefits from it to fund whatever is needed to make it work. But then again, I am no longer sure about anything the Fed does these days that supposedly is to improve matters.

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