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Federal Insights

Debunking the Myths of Network Modernization

by tony.celeste ‎11-17-2015 07:09 AM - edited ‎11-17-2015 07:10 AM (13,711 Views)

“The modernization of the IT environment of the federal government has to be one of our highest priorities,” Federal CIO Tony Scott said this summer at the Brocade Federal Forum. “We’re going to have to replace large parts of what we have because [existing network architecture] just was never designed for the mission and for the challenges that we face today.”


With this in mind, it is surprising that many agencies have yet to modernize their networks and transition to the New IP, an innovative approach to networking that is built on open standards, Ethernet fabrics, and a software-centric foundation. Why the delay? In many cases, network modernization myths are holding agencies back. Brocade Vice President of Federal, Anthony Robbins, and I recently joined Federal News Radio’s Executive Editor, Jason Miller, to discuss and debunk the most common network modernization myths preventing agencies from taking action. Here are the top three:


Myth 1: Network Modernization is Costly

Some leaders hesitate to invest in new infrastructure, afraid that network modernization will cost the government too much money. In reality, maintenance spending on obsolete IT infrastructure is the real drain on federal IT resources. A recent survey by the Professional Services Council found that 75 percent of federal IT spending is dedicated to maintaining legacy infrastructure, leaving little budget for system upgrades and advances in innovation. This is making a real impact on agencies - for example, the Department of Labor was recently forced to purchase replacement parts for its 30-year-old IT system on eBay, an unsustainable solution.


Modernization can actually save agencies up to $7 billion over a five-year period. For example, adopting open standards, integral to the New IP, increases competition among vendors and allows agencies to use multivendor networks, which have been proven to generate substantial cost savings by Gartner.


Myth 2: Network Modernization isn’t Secure

Another misconception held by numerous IT leaders is that open standards, essential in modernized networks, are insecure. In fact, a recent Market Connections research study found that 61 percent of federal IT professionals believe this myth. This misconception comes from the idea that open standards mean open access, which is inaccurate. In reality, open standards allow agencies access to the best security options to support their needs through the ability to utilize multivendor networks. Additionally, open standards encourage the involvement of various experts in the development of new solutions, resulting in stronger and more quickly available cybersecurity options.


Myth 3: Network Modernization Poses Too Much Risk

Federal IT leaders are understandably concerned about potential risks involved in network modernization. However, what they don’t take into account is that the risks of not modernizing and not taking action today are far greater. Failure to modernize is preventing agencies from utilizing innovative third platform technologies such as mobility, big data, cloud, and the Internet of Things (IoT). It is also exposing agencies to more security vulnerabilities, as legacy networks, which were designed long before today’s security threats, require “bolted-on” security solutions as opposed to the “baked-in” approach of modern architecture. These technologies introduce new possibilities within the federal government and can lead to significant cost savings, if supported by a modernized network.


Further, elements of the New IP, including open standards and network subscription service, make it easy to transition. As-a-service models provide the flexibility to upgrade, scale up or down as network needs arise and reduce the risk of a large upfront investment.


Open standards also alleviate any fears about interoperability. They also ensure agencies that their investments work smoothly both with the infrastructure they already have in place and with the technology they will depend on in the future.


Transition to the New IP

A recent study found that barely 10 percent of federal IT leaders believe they can rely on their networks to use modern solutions to move and manage their data. A number that low suggests that agencies have far more to lose by holding onto their legacy IT systems than they do by modernizing.


Network modernization offers agencies the opportunity to unleash innovative solutions to meet missions of today and tomorrow. For further help debunking the myths of network modernization and transitioning to the New IP, please visit