TRANSITION TO CONVERGENCE

Back in the days when government networks operated via T1 and ISDN lines, transmission times were much slower than today. Back then, those slower speeds were sufficient, but that’s no longer the case.

Technology has improved and increased requirements dictate greater security, scalability and flexibility. So government agencies are doing what it takes to keep up. For many, that includes implementing technologies like network virtualization, which helps agencies keep pace with the demands of widespread wireless use, connected devices and other bandwidth demands.

The next logical step for forward-looking government agencies is moving toward the converged network. This type of network configuration combines multiple communications technologies into a single network, which improves manageability, reduces costs and simplifies operations.

There are many ways to approach converged networks, depending on agency needs. This often includes some combination of VoIP, high-speed Internet access, video, images, e-mail or any other digitized data. It’s particularly useful for managing the massive amount of sensor data, which is growing exponentially as agencies increasingly adopt Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

The idea is catching on. According to a recent survey by TechTarget, more than half of government agencies are interested in converging data center networks. There many benefits to adopting the converged network model include:

  • Lower cost: Combining several services into one reduces the amount of cabling and hardware infrastructure required.
  • Interoperability: Helps ensure interoperability and support for IoT applications.
  • Simplified management: Since all functions are managed under one unified solution, agencies gain greater control. It also automates monitoring of network ports, cables, connectors and connectors.
  • Going green: Not only does it reduce power consumption, but also improves cooling efficiency and saves space.
  • Advanced analytics: Converged networks are a great enabler for predictive analytics—a critical tool for analyzing big data and network operations.
  • Future-proof the network: Converged networks pave the way for next-generation networking technologies such as software-defined networks (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). These technologies improve the efficiency of data traffic and improve flexibility and customization.

Some agencies are further along on the path toward converged networks than others. Most have moved past the stage of adopting VoIP and extending Internet and data connectivity through Ethernet. Many have also embraced unified communications deployed over VPN networks.

No matter what stage of transition an agency finds itself, the NETCENTS-2 contract can help move the process forward. The contract provides the products and services necessary to integrate wide area network (WAN) communications into a converged network. These include networking, security, voice, video and data communications systems and solutions services. NETCENTS-2 is an Air Force vehicle, but is available for other agencies as well.

The primary mission of the NETCENTS-2 contract is to provide network operations, infrastructure and service-oriented architecture (SOA) implementation and transformation services. Because it’s focused on agencies with stringent security requirements, it supports a host of standards, including:

  • Department of Defense Information Network (DoDIN) architecture
  • Defense Information Structure (DII)
  • IC Information Sharing environments
  • Air Force and Defense Communications Systems infrastructure for computer and telecommunications network mission areas

Besides supporting network convergence, NETCENTS-2 also supports other network-centric projects. The list of projects includes network policy automation and enforcement, network sensor operation, network behavior monitoring and analysis, network performance analysis and tuning, network boundary management and control, network security access, and network service orchestration.