Government has always been a complex morass of differing ideals, morals and motivations…but we’re not here to talk about political nuances.  The “complexity” that we’re concerned with centers on the IT technologies that our government uses every day to serve citizens, from network infrastructure to application management and monitoring tools.


There’s no debate that IT networks are becoming more complex. We surveyed more than 100 government IT professionals to find out what is driving this complexity and what can be done about it.


For this survey, we defined network complexity as “the continuously growing, increasingly complicated nature of the network due to new technologies (such as SDN, virtualization, etc.) as well as the ever-increasing responsibilities placed on IT professionals from an IT operations perspective (by supporting new service offerings such as cloud, mobility, etc.) and business operations perspective (such as security or compliance).” Based on this definition, more than 93 percent of respondents said that increased network complexity changed their IT role/responsibilities within the last three to five years.


So, what is the driving force behind this complexity? Really there are three factors – Technology, IT Operations, and Business Operations.


On the Technology side, “Smarter Equipment” (meaning you used to need three pieces of equipment to do what a single piece of equipment can do today) was consistently ranked highest in terms of a technology driving complexity. Looking at IT Operations, this idea of “smarter equipment” continues to impact complexity with mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) both ranking high on respondents’ lists of areas that increase network complexity. Both public and private cloud were included in the possible responses and both received tepid, middle of the road responses in terms of their impact putting them on par with feelings related to Voice over IP (VoIP).


On the Business Operations side, IT professionals also are being asked to take on additional responsibilities to more directly support business operations. The primary responsibility impacting complexity is Security. Security far outpaced Auditing and Compliance in terms of its impact on network complexity among government respondents.


Given that equipment is getting smarter and IT professionals are being asked to do more, it is not a huge surprise that our respondents want to get smarter themselves. 73 percent said that training IT staff was key to being as prepared as possible for growing network complexity. Security and understanding the business were the areas that respondents ranked as the most critical for training over the next five years. With this critical need for training 42 percent say it is difficult for them to gain approval for training from their company.


A presentation is available here that highlights the full survey results in detail.