Network Agility Depends on Having the Right Partner

Ecosystem partners can help agencies make the leap to SDN-enabled NaaS

Brian Bonacci

This has been a year of change. In addition to COVID-19 shifting much of the federal workforce to remote work almost overnight, agency IT teams are grappling with how to best accommodate rapid advances in technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT). And while many agencies have made significant progress on adopting cloud to accommodate these changes with improved agility and scalability, network modernization has been slower to date. In a survey of 150 Federal IT managers conducted prior to COVID-19, over half said their agency was failing to prioritize the networking aspect of cloud adoption and overall IT modernization.[i]

But this is starting to change. Several federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Army, the Navy and the Air Force have recently announced significant new investments in network modernization initiatives.[ii] And a recent report on software-defined networking prepared by the U.S. President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) acknowledged both the benefits and ongoing shift from hardware-based to software-based networks.[iii]

SDN-Enabled Network as a Service is an Effective Solution for Government Agencies

With Network as a Service (NaaS), federal government agencies have a great alternative to traditional networks. Download this whitepaper to learn why SDN-enabled networks are better than traditional networks; how can agencies solve for latency-sensitive applications and ensure equal distribution of services and much more.

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Benefits of software-defined networks for government agencies

Proprietary, hardware-centric networks are quickly becoming a thing of the past as carriers increasingly rely on virtualization to decouple network functions from the hardware they run on. This allows network operators to use standard, commoditized hardware to run multiple virtual network functions at the same time for improved flexibility, interoperability and efficiency.

Source: NSTAC reportiii

Benefits of moving to software-defined networking (SDN) for government agencies include:

Provisioning speed: Persistent and/or non-persistent network transport can be spun up or down in minutes versus weeks or months.

Vendor-neutrality: Network control is decoupled from the network plane, freeing IT teams from vendor-specific solutions. SDN-enabled API integration between transport service providers, such as Verizon’s software-defined interconnect (SDI) partnership with Equinix, allow agencies to easily connect one network to another.

Flexibility: Separation of control functions from forwarding functions improves network automation and programmability. SDN can also overlay onto multiple network infrastructure topologies allowing it to be introduced with minimal disruption to current network services.

Scalability: Network transport capacity can be dynamically scaled up or down as needed.

Control: Centralized transparency, control and orchestration enable easy deployment and administration of network-wide policies. This facilitates consistent security postures throughout the network, which is particularly important as end-users increasingly access and consume applications over different devices. In the event of network issues, full-stack insights unlock a level of visibility that was not possible to obtain with proprietary solutions, streamlining the troubleshooting process.

Efficiency and cost: Multiple network functions and virtual private networks can share a common transport infrastructure. As a result, network service providers (NSPs) have a lower operating cost burden which translates into significant cost savings for agencies, as well as a shift from CAPEX to OPEX billing.

Security: Network workloads can be micro-segmented based on policies, giving network operators greater control. If breaches occur, applications or sessions can be isolated, limiting movement of malicious traffic. Network traffic can also be isolated by group-specific policies.

Why the partner ecosystem matters for agile network as a service (NaaS)

As agencies adapt and connect to a new era of software-defined everything, partner ecosystems will be key to their success. Shifting from legacy, hardware-centric to more agile as a service (aaS) approaches will depend on the ability to tap into the best partner for the job. Network service providers like AT&T, Lumen and Verizon, as well as cloud technology service providers such as Dell, can help expedite deployment of secure SD-WAN connected information exchange or other NaaS services through scalable, pay-as-you-go services at the digital edge. And systems integrators, such as General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), can help agencies develop transformational target architectures, including applications and networks, which enable AI initiatives and accelerate other key mission programs.

On Platform Equinix®, agencies can access rich digital ecosystems of more than 9,500 organizations, including 2,900+ cloud and IT providers, 1,800+ network providers, 600+ content and digital media providers, as well as emerging ecosystems in technologies such as AI and 5G. Networx authorized TIC-compliant providers such as AT&T, Lumen and Verizon are also part of the Equinix ecosystem.

To learn more about how to jump start your network modernization, download the white paper “SDN-Enabled Network as a Service is an Effective Solution for Government Agencies” and schedule an interactive virtual Digital Edge Strategy Briefing.


You may also like to read:

Rev Up Your IT Modernization with Secure Network as a Service

SDN Introduces a New Paradigm: Network as a Service

Networking for Nerds: NFV versus NaaS


[i] MeriTalk, Cloud Complexity: Navigating the Network Piece of the Federal Cloud Puzzle, Oct 2018.

[ii] Federal News Network, NOAA sets stage for 10-year network modernization with $300M AT&T task order, Nov 2020; Businesswire, Palantir Enters Mission Command Space With US Army Futures Command Prototype, Nov 2020; FedTech, The Navy Envisions a New Kind of Network, April 2019; Federal News Network, Two Air Force bases given go-ahead to expand network-as-a-service, Sept 2020.

[iii] NSTAC REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT on Software-Defined Networking, Aug 2020.

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