May 29 2015

Report: Federal Leaders Lack Network Visibility

Riverbed Technology says majority of federal agencies need more than 24 hours to find, fix, application issues.

As the federal government continues to consolidate data centers, the network paths for applications become longer and more complex, resulting in less visibility for federal technology leaders.

Riverbed Technology recently commissioned Market Connections to poll federal technology leaders on their visibility into their networks. The results were surprising. — and expensive.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said it takes a day or more to detect and fix application issues, while only 17 percent said they could address network outages within minutes.

“In the consumer market, if an application is down for only a few minutes, then people get upset,” said Davis Johnson, vice president for public sector at Riverbed Technology, in an interview with FedTech. “Think about if something was down for more than a day. That’s not acceptable in business, and it shouldn’t be in government, but we’re finding many federal agencies don’t have the visibility tools they need to correct this issue.”

The respondents provided some candid insights into their troubles:

  • 45 percent said that the increased network complexity is their greatest federal network management challenge.
  • Two-thirds of respondents said they have some tools and procedures in place to monitor and troubleshoot network performance, but in many cases those tools are out of date. Only 30 percent rated their network monitoring performance as excellent.
  • A major cause for concern: 27 percent said they are able to find the root cause of network performance issues quickly.
  • Many federal leaders would like to solve this issue, but resources are lacking: 44 percent said they have insufficient funding to procure the solutions to address these problems.

“The problems these agencies face are a combination of many factors: budget constraints, lack of leadership support or just general awareness,” Johnson said. “There is a small group, less than about a third of who we interviewed, that absolutely understand the need for better network visibility. They see that as a crucial part of keeping their networks safe.”

Therein lies the answer, Johnson said. The Office of Management and Budget continues to increase the government’s spending on cybersecurity measures, up to $14 billion in the government’s last proposed budget.

To help remedy the issue, Johnson said the government could allocate those cybersecurity funds for network performance issues, looking more at network flow, traffic analysis, and network and application performance to take a more holistic approach.