Network Modernization: A Stepping-Stone to the Future

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Most government agencies have made some progress in modernizing their networks. Even so, many have a long way to go to meet the network modernization requirements fostered by the federal government.

While there has been progress—particularly in switching away from the federal government’s old Networx contracting vehicle to its more modern Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract, agencies are at different levels in implementing modern technologies, replacing legacy infrastructure, and shoring up security. Without significant progress, it’s much more difficult to increase efficiency; ensure protection of sensitive data, networks, and critical infrastructure; and move forward with broader IT modernization plans. Legacy networking technology also inhibits agencies’ use of emerging technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence and machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), and edge computing, which all require massive bandwidth, network speed, and flexibility.

The weaknesses in current networking infrastructure became crystal clear during the past few years, when so many agency employees began working remotely, putting a major strain on network infrastructure demand. Comcast, which provides dense metro-based fiber infrastructure that carries much of the government’s data, saw an increase of about one-third in network traffic, slightly more in mobile data usage, and a 285 percent increase in voice and video calls. Those spikes were generally in response to supporting remote work while maintaining mission continuity.

Modernization is a big job that takes money, time, and planning, but it’s critical work. Breaking the job down into manageable pieces and repurposing existing technology when possible, agencies can create a transition path that will get them where they need to go.

This article outlines some important steps agencies can take to help clarify and simplify the work.

Establish a baseline

The first step is establishing a baseline network architecture that will work today, but position the agency for the future. The baseline network should be able to handle many different types of traffic and support a wide array of network characteristics. The goal is creating a network that provides as much flexibility as possible to embrace newer technologies over time.

Choose the right combination of connectivity options

Older agency networks are full of legacy technologies—Time-Division Multiplexing (TDM) and first-generation VPNs, for example. Many have trouble achieving acceptable speeds, throughput, capacity, and visibility. Think about transitioning from those older technologies with techniques such as converting TDM signals into Ethernet or IP signals that can travel over an Ethernet solution, Virtual Private Networks, Software Defined Networking, and wireless 5G capabilities.

Accelerate your network transformation

Establishing a baseline and choosing the right technologies—not to mention dealing with budget and cultural issues—can take time, and complexities are bound to crop up. One way to hit the ground running is by taking advantage of the EIS contract. Designed like a shopping cart, agencies can pick and choose the technologies they need without having to vet them individually.

Security is non-negotiable

Federal agencies today know that network security is critical. It’s part of every mandate and regulation, from the Federal Zero Trust Strategy to the Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity.

Add-on solutions like Comcast Business SecurityEdge, which helps block threats like malware, ransomware, phishing, and botnet attacks across all connected devices, can also help. In addition, the solution helps prevent users from accessing compromised websites and infected links while on the network.

Read the full article here.

This content is made possible by our sponsor Comcast Business; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of FCW’s editorial staff.

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