Nothing in recent history has tested the world’s information technology (IT) infrastructure quite like the global COVID-19 pandemic. The robustness and resiliency demonstrated by the world’s internet, telecommunications, networking and cloud providers over the last three months have been nothing short of remarkable. The agility in which millions of workers around the world pivoted from “in office” to “in home” workspaces is a testimony to not only how the global IT infrastructure works, but how well the organizations that make up that infrastructure work together.
Federal networks and employees have been tested as well. And many questions remain. Can we be effective if our people work from home? Will the network hold up? How do we connect remote outposts? Do we have enough VPN and bandwidth capacity? Some organizations are faring better than others. So what have we learned?
Interconnection is Key for Digital Transformation of Government Agencies
Interconnection has emerged as the key driver of growth for government agencies' digital business. Technology leaders in the government must deploy their infrastructure at the digital edge for secure and private data exchange. Interconnection helps government agencies build next-generation digital ecosystems and transform entire industries.Read More
Speed, scale and security is what every IT organization, private and public, strives to achieve. We’ve seen many customers and partners during this time leverage interconnection at the edge to respond to remote workers’ requirements faster and more effectively. For example, Microsoft is scaling to meet increasing demands from its Teams customers via Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute and Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™) software-defined interconnection. Agencies can emulate these strategies that have proven to be highly flexible and resilient during the global pandemic. Agile, direct and secure software-defined interconnection, built on a global platform have enabled private companies such as Dropbox and Netflix to scale and deliver continuous collaboration and entertainment and communications at an unprecedented scale.
Global interconnection to other agencies, mission partners and digital service providers, and the ability to orchestrate and automate that connectivity have been mission critical during this challenging time. What we’ve learned is that moving forward, global interconnection has to be “business as usual” in both the public and private sectors. According to the third annual Global Interconnection Index (GXI), a market study published by Equinix, by 2022 interconnecting networks and service providers across multiple locations is the dominating use case for private interconnection bandwidth, making up more than half of the total interconnection bandwidth (66%) forecasted worldwide. And in the public sector (Government & Education), the global installed interconnection bandwidth capacity is expected to grow 68% annually by 2022.
Everything works better when connected ̶ virtually
Virtualization has always been the poster child for reducing CAPEX overhead and improving operational efficiency. It was the technology that built cloud computing. Today, virtualization and cloud computing are both mission-critical technologies for Federal agencies.
In an updated memorandum of the Federal Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI), Federal CIO, Suzette Kent wrote: “Portability, scalability and elasticity are key measures for long-term savings and optimization, and are important concepts in the Cloud Smart strategy. As such, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) prioritizes the increased virtualization and containerization of Federal systems as critical for IT modernization efforts, to drive efficiency and application portability.”[i]
But to implement this mandate effectively, you can’t just stop at system and application virtualization; you also have to virtualize the network that is carrying system and application traffic as well. If you don’t, then you’ll never reach the level of portability, scalability and elasticity required to respond quickly to a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Case in point: Over the last three months, the technology supply chain has been hampered by the slow down, and in some cases shut down, of global component manufacturers and distributors.[ii] The existing infrastructure of virtual network devices for SD-WANs, network functions virtualization (NFV) and security access server edge (SASE) services has made it possible for enterprises and service providers to spin up the network capacity to access the cloud-based resources and security that have kept the global IT infrastructure up and running. Virtual networking is literally saving the day.
The tools for creating software interconnection
Equinix has developed a number of interconnection solutions that quickly and securely enable the provisioning of virtual network services such as SD-WANs, NFV (firewall, VPNs, cloud-to-cloud routing) and SASE services. Network Edge and Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™) work together to provide access to a variety of virtual networks. For example, as discussed in the blog article, “How to Speed Up your Tactical Edge with SDN,” Verizon’s Software-Defined Interconnect (SDI) works by establishing a direct, private IP network connection between Verizon’s MPLS network and ECX Fabric in minutes. Network Edge also enables access to a variety of NFV providers such as Cisco, Juniper Networks, Palo Alto Networks, as well as virtual network connections to leading cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud and VMware on AWS.
Along with Equinix interconnection solutions, IT organizations can leverage the Equinix Developer Platform of APIs and development portals to enable the customization and automation of virtual network capabilities. For example, many IT organizations use these tools today to integrate the deployment of Network Edge services from their own network operations center (NOC) dashboard, and orchestrate and automate interconnection services based on specific missions. The recent acquisition of Packet provides a rich library of developer-friendly APIs for deploying and managing bare metal compute services, at the edge.
Virtual networking is literally saving the day.
Examples of mission-critical automation on Platform Equinix® include:
- Creating cloud-based disaster recovery sites in remote areas around the world without sending resources in to deploy new hardware.
- Rapidly deploying mission communications and collaboration platforms around the world.
- Spinning up and down telecommunications and data networks in minutes from a remote NOC.
- Extending network capacity as missions scale and turning it down as they wind down.
- Accessing cybersecurity ecosystems on-demand when under a sudden cyberattack.
Speed to mission, scale and security are essential for government agencies, and you will incur a higher degree of risk if you don’t future proof your network infrastructure with automated virtual network services.
Opportunities from interconnecting to vibrant ecosystems
Software-defined interconnection to the rich digital, business and government ecosystems on Platform Equinix provide endless opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Equinix Government Solutions will continue to advocate new interconnection capabilities that meet the mission but, as always, we invite forward-thinking customers and ecosystem partners to work with us to enable government agencies to reach everywhere, interconnect everyone and integrate everything.
Equinix Interconnected Government, Network and Cloud Ecosystems
Learn how you can provision direct and secure software-defined interconnection to virtual network and cloud service providers by starting a free trial of Network Edge.
[i] Federal Data Center Optimization Initiative Update, June 25, 2019.
[ii] KPMG, “Technology Supply Chain Disruption,” April 21, 2020.
Speed to mission, scale and security is essential for government agencies, and you will incur a higher degree of risk if you don’t future proof your network infrastructure with automated virtual network services.