There’s no doubt that federal IT modernization sped up over the past year. In a recent survey of 300 federal IT executives and mission owners, 85% said the COVID-19 pandemic was a watershed moment for government modernization.[i] Most agencies experienced a surge in telework – in some cases up to 90% of the workforce[ii] – and had to scale for remote access. For example, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) had to manage an additional 100,000 employees who worked remotely in the first few months of the pandemic.i
To address rapid shifts like this, agencies want to leverage trusted cloud capabilities and modern network infrastructure to improve IT agility and resiliency. However, legacy federal networks may lack the capacity, speed, and flexibility to handle fast-changing mission requirements. Network as a Service (NaaS) can help federal agencies overcome these challenges by leveraging modern network capabilities such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) to deliver on their mission.
SDN-Enabled Network as a Service is an Effective Solution for Government Agencies
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Network modernization drivers
According to Deltek, network modernization is one of the six key technology priorities for the 2021 federal IT budget of $92.2 billion as shown below, along with cloud computing, cybersecurity, data analytics, data center optimization and artificial intelligence.[iii]
Key spending drivers for network modernization include:
- EIS migration: The GSA EIS contract is replacing previous federal contracts for telecommunications and network services, and all agency telecom services must be transitioned to EIS by September 2022.[iv] While overall migration to EIS has been slow to date, it is an opportunity for agencies to pursue equipment upgrades to meet IT modernization goals, as well as procure centralized delivery of agile network services such as VoIP, SD-WAN, etc.
- COVID-19: Agencies needed to ramp up bandwidth quickly to support remote work, mission continuity and, in some cases, telehealth to address operational disruptions, and this will continue. At the same time, it exposed network vulnerabilities that will drive future investment in network cybersecurity and automation.
- Consolidation: Agencies continue to pursue the cost savings and performance advantages of network consolidation.
- Emerging technologies: Growth in emerging technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the internet of things (IoT) and edge computing will continue to drive demand for bandwidth. More agencies are also piloting 5G due to the promise of additional network speed and flexibility.
Modernize your network with interconnection
In addition to the drivers noted above, growing volumes of data at the edge present a challenge that traditional federal networks are ill-equipped to handle. A modern IT infrastructure designed for the digital edge can help address these challenges and reduce costs and latency while improving scalability, speed, user experience and capacity. However, achieving this agility requires rethinking the way network infrastructure and services are architected, deployed and managed.
Digital leaders are making it happen by leveraging software-defined interconnection, such as that provided by Equinix FabricTM, to optimize their network. The article “Digital Infrastructure Transformation: Building an Agile Network” notes four key tasks associated with network optimization. These include:
- Establish a point of presence in all locations where you have the most digital interaction.
- Transform wide area networks (WANs) through the deployment of vendor-neutral, proximate interconnection hubs.
- Expand network capabilities to the edge.
- Optimize last-mile connectivity through SDN and NFV
Organizations who leverage interconnection to modernize their networks can reduce cloud and network costs by 60-70% and latency by at least 30% according to Forrester.[v] This equates to $15 million+ in network optimization cost savings over three years.
Benefits of an SDN-enabled NaaS based on interconnection
Federal agencies can easily implement the steps above in a Network as a Service (NaaS) model by combining Equinix Fabric software-defined interconnection with other Equinix services such as Network Edge, Equinix Precision TimeTM and Equinix MetalTM. NaaS is an on-demand subscription model for virtual network functions that can range from a fully virtualized cloud-based network to just virtualizing some network functions. This can include virtual network devices and controllers, SD-WAN, load balancers, firewalls, routing, security, bandwidth on demand, telecom services such as VoIP and more. Deploying an SDN-enabled NaaS solution based on interconnection is more flexible and cost-effective than traditional network services. Benefits include:
- On-demand provisioning in minutes vs. weeks or months
- Dynamically resizable network transport capacity (quickly spin up or down as needed)
- Significant cost savings (only pay for what you use)
- Ability to quickly traverse from one network service provider (NSP) to another network via SDN-enabled connections such as Verizon’s software-defined interconnect (SDI) partnership with Equinix
- Instant access to hundreds of clouds and/or cloud-adjacent services regionally distributed across the globe
- Simplified intra-agency and interagency collaboration via private interconnection
A modern IT network based on an extensible NaaS model provides optimal bandwidth and performance, empowering agencies to maximize flexible, agile and scalable interconnectivity for mission operations, collaboration and delivery.
To learn more about how to future-proof your mission with NaaS based on interconnection, 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.
[i] Meritalk, Resilient: Government Pandemic Insights for a Safer America, landing page, report and infographic, Jan 2021.
[ii] Meritalk, Future of Telework: Legislative Efforts Set to Shape Key 2021 Policies, Dec 2020.
[iii] Deltek, Federal Information Technology Market 2020-2022.
[iv] GSA, About Transition, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions.
[v] A Forrester Total Economic Impact™ Study Commissioned by Equinix, April 2019.