More Than 750 Attendees Gathered to Discuss Best Practices, Acquisition, Infrastructure Modernization, and the Future of the Network
As U.S. federal agencies continue to make smarter IT investments to keep up with the pace of commercial innovation, they are realizing how critical it is to embrace industry-leading networking standards and best practices to achieve their missions. On August 13, Brocade and MeriTalk hosted the 2014 Federal Forum, a one-day event bringing together leaders in government and industry to change the conversation about government networks and bring them into the twenty-first century.
With keynote speakers Richard McKinney, CIO, USDOT and Terry Halverson, CIO, DoD, and in-depth panels covering both technology and transformation, the forum provided a venue to discuss why deep optimization and simplification of the most foundational level of the government enterprise is imperative to maximizing Return On Investment (ROI) and economies of scale.
The federal government relies on one of the largest and most complex network environments in the world. Today, agencies are dealing with massive quantities of data on an infrastructure that is over 15 years old. Systems implemented before the full impact of the Internet, smart phones, and social media cannot support today’s government needs. Network modernization, if implemented and managed effectively, can be a springboard for optimization of resources, smart decision-making, and technological innovation without adding cost to the taxpayer.
“Emerging network technologies, open standards, multivendor networks, and performance-focused acquisition models are essential building blocks to pave the way for innovation and modernization. As we discussed at the Federal Forum, it’s time for all of us to build a broader strategic vision of how to drive network modernization and industry-leading innovation into the federal government,” said Anthony Robbins, vice president Federal, Brocade. “The U.S. federal government can take an immediate leap forward in modernizing its network infrastructure by employing many of the best practices discussed at the 2014 Federal Forum.”
Key Takeaways and Best Practices from the 2014 Federal Forum:
1. Move toward Multivendor Networks: The value of a multivendor network cannot be overestimated. Gartner has stated that including even one additional vendor in an IT network can save an organization between 15 and 25 percent on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The report also found that capital costs fell 30 to 50 percent when a second infrastructure vendor was introduced. Without competitive sourcing, agencies pay more initial purchases, service contracts, training, and future product upgrades. Open, procurement drives down costs in both the short and long term. Multivendor networks make the move to virtualization easier, too. Bob Kimball, CTO of Ciena Government Solutions, noted during the Software-Defined Networking (SDN) panel that, while SDN makes networking simpler, the technology is easier to implement and manage in multivendor environments.
2. Simplify Management with SDN/NFV: SDN and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) are creating highly automated and more efficient networks that deliver next-generation apps and services with greater ease and speed. This can mean deployment of tactical networks in theater or scaling system capacity in mere minutes, as opposed to days or weeks. By implementing a modernized, fabric-based network with SDN, agencies can unleash the power, intelligence, and analytical capabilities of networks to deploy flexible, end-to-end cloud-based solutions. In that context, Dr. Alissa Johnson, Deputy CIO for the Executive Office of the President, noted that a recent MeriTalk study found 90 percent of field workers are impacted due to network downtime. SDN can help mitigate this issue, ultimately saving time and money, while increasing efficiency.
3. Create Flexible Acquisition Models: Traditionally, network managers have relied upon capacity forecasts and look-ahead provisioning to adequately resource network infrastructure ahead of requirements. In the current capital-constrained environment, this approach has proved problematic. Many service contracts often involve significant penalties if an agency tries to change a contract during the initial period of the agreement (usually three years). Offerings that go beyond leasing, outsourcing, purchasing, and financing can help balance the shifting requirements of buyers and sellers in an intensely dynamic market. For example, a subscription model that enables IT buyers to add network equipment capacity through a monthly fee-based, pay-as-you-go option can provide agencies with the flexibility and agility they need in their IT departments. During the Federal Forum panel on “Achieving a 21st Century Government Network,” Amazon Web Services VP of Worldwide Public Sector Teresa Carlson said that future acquisition models are going to be modernized.
To review any of the sessions or panels from the Federal Forum, please visit www.federalforum2014.com