How Federal Agencies Can Take an Advantage of a New Kind of Network

Networking is becoming software-enabled, user-centric and based on open standards. But agencies need to take several steps to gain all of the advantages of that transition.

Federal agencies’ prioritization of cloud, mobile, Big Data and other emerging technologies increasingly demands an agile, automated baseline IT infrastructure. However, today’s aging network infrastructures, often based on decades-old methodologies and proprietary standards, largely inhibit government’s ability to fully realize the benefits of digital transformation and comprehensive automation.

In a recent global survey of CIOs, 75 percent of respondents said that the network was inhibiting their ability to achieve business objectives; network automation and network integration with other operations were highlighted as top barriers. The same network challenges hold true in the federal market. In a recent survey of federal IT decision-makers, only 15 percent of respondents felt their current network infrastructure could fully support the demands of digital transformation technologies.

Agencies are beginning to get on the path to network modernization with the “New IP,” an innovative approach to networking that is software-enabled, user-centric and based on open standards. But there are additional steps they need to take to fully embrace automation, including implementing cross-domain integration and streamlined workflows and adopting a DevOps mentality. Here’s how:

Enable Cross-Domain Integration

Deloitte recently predicted that one of the biggest IT trends in the next two years will be an increase in autonomic IT architectures, a concept that advances automation by blending it with machine learning capabilities. While this may seem futuristic, agencies can prepare for such an environment and begin to experience its benefits by going beyond automating components in silos and supporting cross-domain integration.

Siloed automation has a limited impact, as the benefits of an automated environment may not transfer from one function to another and the chain of agility can be broken by the weakest link. This can mean certain tasks take days rather than minutes. Cross-domain integration ensures that functions flow seamlessly from network to compute to storage, eliminating this inefficiency. When the network experiences an interruption, network, compute, storage and application domains can work together to quickly troubleshoot and automatically resolve issues.

Streamline Workflows

Once an agency has moved to an environment that enables cross-domain integration, streamlining workflows can further support IT agility. By following predetermined workflows, it’s easier for large, complex organizations like the federal government to implement IT services on a large scale.

Traditionally, manual workflows have been the norm. However, as agencies break down silos to enable cross-domain integration, they can also automate critical workflows and reduce the risk of human error — the source of up to 35 percent of network downtime. For federal or defense IT environments that support mission-critical functions, the ability to eliminate this cause of downtime could be the difference between life or death.

Embrace a DevOps Mentality

Frequently, IT agility depends on a DevOps mentality, which allows agencies to benefit from resources and collaboration across IT disciplines. This methodology supports IT agility and innovation, and works hand in hand with cross-domain integration. Leveraging the power of DevOps methodologies, agencies can take advantage of the greatest ideas and insights driven by collaboration within a thriving technical community. With a fully automated IT environment, agencies are better able utilize these contributions.

By enabling cross-domain integration, streamlining workflows and embracing a DevOps state of mind, agencies can accomplish their missions more efficiently and effectively and better support digital transformation. As agencies begin to transition to the New IP, these are important considerations that can capitalize on the promise of automation across government. With these efforts under way, agencies are poised to unleash mega-scale innovation.

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Aug 11 2016