Much like private sector organizations, government today is taking advantage of applications, programs and technology advancements that require reliable, high-speed, scalable networks. As these capabilities become part of the fabric of government, more and more people rely on them for everyday productivity, access and information sharing.
But as agencies begin to grapple with how to handle the network requirements of the coming influx of sensors, tools and appliances and the overall increased need for speed and bandwidth, many will find that their networks can’t keep up. Backed by a massively scalable network with an extensive reach, built on advanced technology, public sector organizations can change and grow as needed to serve their users.
Meeting Changing Needs
Federal, state and local government have steadily adopted technologies and services that require more reliability, higher bandwidth, greater scalability and even global reach. More government services, for example, are accessible via the cloud, and citizens have come to rely on being able to access everything online from permit applications to filing taxes. Government at all levels counts on reliable, scalable connectivity for sharing and collaboration, telework, fieldwork and emergency services.
A decade ago, before users have come to expect reliable access from wherever they
were, using any device, most low-bandwidth WAN networks were good enough to service the needs of government organizations. But as technology has matured and as more individuals and staff expect a consumer-like experience when interacting with the government, the demand for network performance is growing exponentially. Many government organizations, for example, are moving toward IP-based applications and data to support services like videoconferencing and streaming video, remote monitoring systems, next-generation 911 systems, smart utility metering and telehealth applications.
In addition, government agencies have embraced mobility in a big way, drastically increasing the need for reliable connectivity. According to a report from Meritalk, 84 percent of state and local governments have or will have mobile services by 2016. That same study found that 94 percent of state and local governments lack the networking infrastructure to support everything they want to do—not only mobility, but also security, data center consolidation, big data and cloud computing. For the federal government, Meritalk found that 58 percent have mobility initiatives underway.
But that’s only the beginning of what tomorrow’s government networks will have to support. The growing importance of the Internet of Things (IoT)—Internet-connected devices ranging from sensors and appliances to medical equipment—increasingly provide important data that agencies want to use to improve productivity and service. IoT is expected to be used for everything from smart buildings and traffic management to intelligent office equipment and surveillance systems.
According to Gartner, more than 30 percent of local government agencies will depend on data supplied by the IoT to support at least 50 percent of mission-critical programs. A recent IDC report found that IoT will be critical to providing state and local government executives with access to the timely, granular and complete data necessary to support strategic and tactical decision-making. At the same time, the federal government is bracing for the onslaught of IoT.
Yet many IT professionals aren’t actively preparing the network infrastructure for the coming impact of IoT, according to a Spiceworks report. The report found that while 71 percent of IT professionals realize how IoT will change network infrastructure, more than half are sidestepping the issue. Of those who are tackling the problem head-on, the most important efforts underway include investing in infrastructure and expanding bandwidth.
The Case for Enterprise-Grade Network
Many of today’s WANs weren’t designed for the needs of the future. Many WANs use MPLS and a combination of legacy technologies such as T1, OC3 and frame relay. In addition, many networks depend on copper infrastructure from multiple service providers.
Take the example of a state’s Department of Motor Vehicle. Many DMVs are working to convert all systems and access to the cloud and service the community with on-demand web-based services. But each individual interaction will require significant bandwidth to push that data to the cloud and pull it back down to the user. Existing networks, even those consisting of bonded T1 lines, are bandwidth-constrained and poor application performance can result.
The best way to ensure that government agencies can seamlessly provide digital services now and in the future is with a proven, enterprise-grade network that is easily scalable, and uses the latest technology and is easy to expand geographically.
Scalable, high-performance network. Public sector organizations must be able to adapt
to changing requirements and technology and add new applications and services over time without worrying that network capacity is a showstopper. With an enterprise-grade network, scalability is never an issue. The most dependable, enterprise-grade networks, made of pure Ethernet from end to end, are built to scale. A government agency may only need 100 Mbps of connectivity today, but with a pure Ethernet network, it can easily scale to 1 Gbps as needed. Agencies can increase speeds instantly.
Highly resilient. An effective enterprise-grade network uses the latest technology, such as fiber over Ethernet. With pure Ethernet comes a resilient, scalable carrier-grade network. This allows for speed and ease of repair. A pure Ethernet backbone also allows network providers to offer the most cutting-edge management tools, such as real-time remote monitoring and the ability to see packet latency from one end of the network to the other. It also allows for remote testing capabilities throughout the circuit. All of this helps increase operational efficiency, simplifies troubleshooting and reduces the mean time to repair when issues do occur.
Expansive geographic reach. Another important capability of an enterprise-grade network is the ability to service an agency from end to end. These networks are built for organizations with a vast geographic reach, since fiber access plants are spread out throughout suburbs and rural areas. In contrast, legacy WAN services tend to be centralized in downtown areas, with spotty or no access in locations far outside city limits.
Traditional WAN services typically terminate into one location within a building, such as the basement. With enterprise-grade networks, fiber circuits can be run to every floor or other location in a building required by the organization.
Culture of innovation. Access to a large, proven network also provides access to the types of innovations carriers with reach, scale and vendor relationships can offer. Enterprise-grade carriers have priority access to the best equipment, as well as new technologies as they reach the market. This creates a culture of cutting-edge innovation and services.
The Foundation of Digital Government
West Haven, Connecticut is just one example of a city that embraced a pure Ethernet, enterprise-grade network to deliver public services to its citizens. Its legacy network, comprised of T1 and DSL lines, was hampering its goals of improving public safety and citizen services. The city implemented an enterprise-grade Ethernet network with connections at 10 Mbps and 20 Mbps to link City Hall with 17 other municipal locations. Now with an enterprise-grade network, the city was able to, implement a web-based reverse 911 system, improve surveillance and public safety, and work more productively.
By choosing a proven, enterprise-grade network, government agencies can be confident that technology or services are on the roadmap.
Enterprise-Grade Network Checklist
- Make sure it can service your organization end to end
- Ensure that it has a geographic reach in every area where the organization may expand
- Check the vendor’s statistics: How much bandwidth is it capable of providing? Are customers satisfied?
- Ensure that it uses advanced technology and keeps up with the latest networking advances
- Make sure it services the offsite data centers your organization uses or may use in the future