Here’s a recent article from Signal magazine discussing innovation in the federal marketplace that I think you’ll find interesting.

 

The need for next-generation networking solutions is intensifying, and for good reason. Modern software-defined networking (SDN) solutions offer better automation and remediation, and stronger response mechanisms than others in the event of a breach.

 

But federal administrators should balance their desire for SDN solutions with the realities of government. While there are calls for ingenuity, agility, flexibility, simplicity, and better security, implementation of these new technologies must take place within constraints posed by methodical procurement practices, meticulous security documentation, sometimes archaic network policies, and more.

 

How do modern networking technologies fit into current federal IT regulations and processes? Let’s take a look at two popular technologies—SDN and so-called white box networking solutions—to find some answers.

 

SDN: Same Stuff, Different Process

 

Strip away the spin around SDN, and IT administrators are left with the same basic network management processes under a different architectural framework. However, that architecture allows administrators to manage their networks in very different and far more efficient ways. This greater agility and responsiveness should not grant administrators a carte blanche approach to network operations.

 

If a network is overloaded with traffic, then administrators could decide to spin up more virtual switches to address the issue, right? The federal government requires strict documentation and record-keeping every time a new technology is implemented or an existing one is changed. From managing IP addresses to the dynamic scaling of resources, administrators should carefully consider and account for changes to ensure what they are doing does not pose a security risk.

 

Beware White Boxes

 

White box networking solutions are designed to run on any network, including those that are software-defined, ostensibly at a lower cost. Fortunately, agencies may not need to switch because original equipment manufacturers will continue to step up their game to stay competitive.

 

Even if agencies decide to go the white box route, there are other potential issues that need to be considered, particularly in relation to federal regulations. Agencies need to know who manufactures the technology they use, where it comes from, and other critical considerations that the government requires.

 

Balance Considerations and Benefits

 

There is a lot more to consider before moving into network modernization. Solutions must be compatible across agencies, which can be challenging if every vendor offers a different flavor of SDN. Agencies need to make sure they have the right people in place for the job and are embracing a pattern of continuous employee education.

 

Despite these considerations, modern network solutions can provide great benefits to federal IT teams. Teams can save significant money in the long run because they will not have to invest in patching or maintaining outdated systems.

 

Most importantly, federal administrators can use modern solutions to help build a network foundation that is ready for future innovations. Those innovations may need to occur within the mold of existing government processes, but the groundwork will have been laid for more scalable and more secure networks.

 

Find the full article on Signal.

 

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