Searching for the Right Fit

Federal agencies are struggling with their old IT networks. It may be time for a makeover. Put away the polyester. Burn the bell bottoms.

Old networks lead to complexity, and that makes it harder than ever for Federal agencies to do their jobs, let alone innovate, according to a new study from MeriTalk.

Complexity means IT networks are slow and unreliable. It means downtime and service disruptions. It means agencies can’t implement new technology, services, and capabilities easily. And it means lots of money.

Reducing complexity by half would save agencies $14.8 billion, in part by improving network reliability, speed, and security.

More than half of Federal agencies say network complexity has increased over the past year, and 68 percent believe it will get worse over the next three years.

A Bigger Burden
Growth is among the primary reasons behind network complexity. Networks grew too big, and that growth wasn’t properly managed. But they’re still trying to fit into those old jeans. Just because it’s vintage doesn’t make it cool.

Networks also support an incredible number of devices. Federal workers are able to log into networks from nearly anywhere thanks to progressive telework policies and mobility, but more devices can lead to more complications. Cloud computing, data center consolidation, and server virtualization also contribute to network complexity.

A whopping 81 percent of network managers believe network complexity can slow or halt IT performance objectives.

Clean Out Your Closet
Moving to open standards would allow agencies to take advantage of interoperability, which, in turn, would make them more agile and able to adapt to innovative new solutions like software-defined networking.

Network managers also said they can reduce complexity by adding bandwidth, increasing redundancy, and increasing resiliency.

Shopping Around
Agencies have more networking options than they used to have. Shopping around can help with the makeover, and it can lead to savings. More stores, better deals. Diversification can drive savings by reducing capital expenditures.

Today, 74 percent of network managers are concerned about the lack of interoperability among network vendors. Agencies want options. Now they have them. There’s no reason to wear hand-me-downs. And can we talk about your hair?

Read the full report here.
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Bill Glanz is the content director for MeriTalk and its Exchange communities. In the past 14 years, he has worked as a business reporter, press secretary, and media relations director in Washington, D.C.