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GCN : May 2015
GCN MAY 2015 • GCN.COM 17 4 steps to smart network modernization BY BRIAN ROACH INDUSTRY INSIGHT AFTER YEARS OF POST- PONING network upgrades due to tight budgets, public- sector IT managers are in the process of modernizing legacy infrastructures. IT professionals need to ad- dress this challenge in two dimensions: by increasing raw performance and ef- ficiency through automation and ensuring that every- thing remains highly secure. Modernization can allevi- ate many IT pain points, including provisioning new services with fewer re- sources and more efficiently managing larger scale while helping agencies become more streamlined and agile. Here are four steps that can help government IT managers begin the mod- ernization process: Step 1: Implement au- tomation. Automation enables high performance, greater efficiency and agility while ensuring carrier-class reliability with six nines of availability (99.9999 percent) and far less manual intervention. Manual network manage- ment can be error-prone and costly, and it simply does not work well in today’s cost- constrained, short-staffed environment. Automation reduces the need for IT managers to actually touch the network, allowing them to focus on areas that truly highlight their skills, such as the creation of new applica- tions and services. Further, automation solu- tions can help IT profession- als gain an unprecedented level of insight into every- thing that’s happening on their networks. Step 2: Embrace open standards. Effective net- work modernization and automation require a highly flexible environment built on open standards and best- of-breed solutions. From a technology standpoint, an open approach allows organizations to build highly agile and scalable networks that offer greater flexibility. They no longer must (or even should) rely on proprietary technology, which creates vendor lock-in and limits the ability to take advantage of scale and in- novation. From an economic standpoint, open standards also promote greater com- petition, which helps keep costs down. Step 3: Automate and ensure security. Automa- tion can immediately alert IT professionals to threats, allowing managers to react quickly and resulting in overall improvements in threat response. It’s important that network administrators carefully consider their encryption methods and ensure that they adhere to certifications, particularly as commercial software becomes more widely used in government. Such solu- tions are appealing because they can be procured and deployed more quickly than custom-made technologies. Fortunately, many agen- cies are already displaying a commitment to network modernization security, as exemplified in federal efforts such as the Depart- ment of Homeland Secu- rity’s Einstein program and the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Joint Regional Security Stacks, which are sound and mod- ernized security systems designed to limit and consolidate Internet access points. Step 4: Reduce total cost of ownership. All this effort can culminate in significant savings in terms of network maintenance and support. In fact, many organizations that embark on network modernization initiatives see total-cost-of-ownership savings of as much as 30 percent. Some agencies experience rackspace sav- ings of 72 percent, cooling savings of 67 percent and per-port wattage savings of 56 percent. We’ve also seen maintenance costs drop by 51 percent and software- licensing costs fall by 27 percent. Those improve- ments have proven to be continuous and dramatic, even as agencies become larger in scale. Network modernization provides benefits for just about everyone. Agencies get a faster, more efficient and streamlined network, while IT professionals get more time, fewer headaches and assurance that their networks are secure, up to standards and seamlessly operating 24/7. • — Brian Roach is vice president of Juniper Federal and managing director of worldwide government at Juniper Networks. Effective network modernization and automation require a highly flexible environment built on open standards and best-of-breed solutions. 0515gcn_017.indd 17 4/30/15 9:35 AM