By Paul Parker, SolarWinds Federal & National Government Chief Technologist

 

Modernizing legacy systems is back on the front burner. Here's an interesting article from my colleague, Joe Kim, in which he reminds us not to forget about the network.

 

The Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act was signed into law last year and there’s one bipartisan truth that everyone can agree on: Legacy technologies are keeping agencies’ IT operations from being efficient, reliable, and secure.

 

But while the MGT Act focuses primarily on the need to upgrade individual IT systems, agencies should start their modernization initiatives at the network level.

 

Many of the network technologies that government agencies have used for years no longer cut it in today’s cloud-driven world. Many of these systems are not secure, and are unsuitable for current and future network demands.

 

Let’s take a look at some ways legacy IT networks are holding us back, and how modern network architectures can help propel us forward.

 

Modern security for today’s challenges

Outdated networks must be modernized for better efficiency and to be able to detect, defend, and evolve against today’s cyber threats. Managers must explore creating modern and automated networks that are software defined. This will give managers with automated platforms the ability to detect and alert to potential security risks. An automated network can also serve as a flexible infrastructure designed to adapt to future needs.

 

Greater flexibility for now and the future

Unlike legacy IT networks, modern, software-defined network architectures are built on open standards; thus, they are more flexible and can easily scale depending on the needs and demands of the agency.

 

Today’s networks cannot be rigid. Managers must be able to automatically scale them up or down as needed. Networks must be adaptable enough to accommodate usage spikes and changing bandwidth requirements, so bottlenecks are eliminated and five nines of availability is maintained.

 

Open, software-defined network architectures allow for this, while also enabling managers to deploy different solutions to suit their needs and budgets. Agencies may be using a combination of services and solutions, and it’s not uncommon for agencies to use a hybrid IT infrastructure that includes technologies from different vendors.

 

Insight into hybrid infrastructures

Hybrid IT networks are becoming more commonplace in the public sector. In fact, a recent SolarWinds report indicates that a majority of government agencies surveyed are moving to the hybrid model.

 

Managers must investigate and consider deploying solutions that can provide insight into the network operations and applications wherever they may reside, both on- and off-premises. They need to be able to see through the blind spots that exist where their data moves between their hosting providers and on-site infrastructures. Having this complete and unimpeded perspective is critical to maintaining reliable, fast, and well-protected networks.

 

These networks are the beating hearts of federal IT, and while there’s little doubt that individual hardware components must be updated, we cannot forget about the infrastructure that drives all of these pieces. While the MGT Act is a step in the right direction, none of us should lose sight of the fact that it is network modernization that will ultimately drive better security, reliability, and efficiency.

 

Find the full article on Federal News Radio.