New Fiscal Year, New Opportunities To Modernize Federal IT Systems
We are now a month and a half into the new government fiscal year. More than ever, this is the time for agencies to focus on modernizing their communications and IT systems. For almost a decade, the federal government has been focused on transforming its information technology infrastructure, from the Cloud-First strategy unveiled in 2010, through the current Federal IT Modernization Plan.
No one questions the need for this transformation. The IT systems that have been in place, some literally for decades, must be modernized.
Most of the technologies available today weren’t even envisioned when many current systems were created. For decades, government viewed technology through a programmatic lens. Agencies deliberately designed, developed and implemented siloed IT systems that incorporated unique government requirements.
And the user landscape, whether government employees or citizens, is wildly different than when the old systems were implemented. They expect digital services with data portability, mobility and easily accessible applications, regardless of which agency they’re working for or interacting with. Citizens expect chatbots, which rely on artificial intelligence, to guide them through a variety of regulatory, application and benefits processes. Many existing legacy systems simply aren’t equipped to support these technologies.
Implementing Network-Driven Solutions is the Answer
When the concept of “network” was first introduced, it involved hardware such as desktop computers, wiring, coaxial cables, routers and modems that kept workers tethered to their desks.
Today’s networks are wireless and software-driven. From an application and data perspective, they allow for mobility, minimal latency and on-demand access. Moving data and applications on the network can take place anywhere, geographically speaking, but requires redundancy and reliability. IP and routing protocols need to be robust enough to give networks a degree of fault tolerance, freeing IT managers to focus on user requirements and how to deliver them.
This way, innovation is able to occur much more rapidly and creatively because a lot of the underlying functions are now being handled by the network itself, so managers don’t have to worry about how to move, protect and secure the application itself. That’s all taken care of. The idea is that the network handles a lot of the complexity involved in offering services that are required today.
Quick Tips and Best Practices for Federal Agencies
Going into FY20, we would like to offer some quick tips and best practices in implementing network-driven solutions for your agency.
- Get agency-wide employee support. Agency leaders must buy-in to making the change, which can encourage widespread support. Picking a small project to modernize also helps, showing a winning approach that produces demonstrable improvements.
- Plan for incremental change. Preparing for modernization requires strategic and tactical planning. Each requirement that is delivered builds more capabilities into the infrastructure being upgraded. For example, a virtualized software-defined wide-area network lets you dynamically change the overlay network to suit requirements, but you have to build up to it by adding equipment to the edge of the network and looking at it from an operational perspective.
- There is no silver bullet for security, but it must be built in. Agency officials and IT professionals must collaborate to decide whether a zero-trust environment is best, or if some of the capabilities can be waived, and whether incoming traffic should be allowed or blocked.
- Plan your application implementations. As you make changes to the network, identify where and how applications are going to be run and managed. As the network changes, the workload will increase steadily. You have to be in a position to scale horizontally, not just by adding new servers. The network will allow a multitude of permutations for scaling compute and storage capabilities.
How CenturyLink Can Help Federal Agencies
We are a trusted provider of infrastructure and network-driven solutions. We offer government agencies a secure and powerful network that supports the capacity and data consumption levels required to modernize with future-proof solutions, applications and development methodologies that use emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, cloud and IoT.
For example, CenturyLink is helping the Census Bureau digitize the 2020 Census by providing Managed Trusted IP Services at speeds of 40 Gbps or higher. This will enable compliance with the Office of Management and Budget’s Trusted Internet Connection Initiative and make the census-taking process more secure for 125 million households.
We have also helped a Department of Defense customer to modernize and improve their end-user experiences by upgrading more than 3,500 Wi-Fi access points at one installation to optimize coverage.
Both civilian and military agencies have chosen us for a scalable, secure network that can deliver the innovative solutions employees and citizens alike expect for efficient, effective digital experiences. We work hand-in-hand with our government customers in a shared mission focus on IT modernization, providing rapid design and implementation of needed capabilities and innovative network-driven solutions.
We recently teamed up with GovLoop on a report to help you to better understand how to modernize your network foundation. Download the report now to learn more about the challenges of managing the right foundation for IT Modernization and the network-driven solutions to help you overcome them.
You can also visit our website to explore CenturyLink solutions that are available via our Best-in-Class Federal government contracts.
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