This month, Federal News Radio and WTOP News hosted a panel discussion called Trends in Modernization & Security, sponsored by Juniper Networks. Jason Miller of Federal News Radio moderated the discussion between Dave Mihelcic, CTO, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Armando Gavino, Exec Director, Office of Network Services, Office of Integrated Technology Services, GSA Federal Acquisition Service, Sean McIntyre, Solutions Architect, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Tim Solms, VP Federal, Juniper Networks. Read on to learn more about the network trends to watch for federal CIOs.
The Evolution of the Network
While there are differing views on what has been the network game-changer, one thing is clear: software defined networking (SDN) can bring agility and reliability that align well with agency needs and a more collaborative approach to application delivery. According to Jason Miller, the market research firm IDC estimates that SDN will grow worldwide to approximately $12.5 billion by 2020. Software defined networking allows agencies to better plan for growth, changes to the network, automation, and maintenance. In a recent study by Juniper networks, it was shown that approximately 70% of federal respondents were planning to or already using software defined networking.
According to Dave Mihelcic, CTO at DISA, “SDN is not an end, it’s a means, and it’s about giving us more agility, more velocity in terms of making changes to the network and adapting to customer request and reducing costs. So if we view it from that lens, I think you’ll see it’s a natural evolution to what we’ve been doing previously. In particular by linking software defined networking with our cloud computing strategy, we can much more rapidly provision secure virtual data centers for customer inside the DoD network.”
Tim Solms, VP Federal at Juniper Networks adds that “networks have gone through 20 years of evolution and 20 years of transformation”. Jason Miller points out that first, there was client-server management, then an evolution to the cloud and now agencies are implementing software-defined networking. Part of the reason that SDN has become so powerful is because it allows for the integration of previously separated architecture and hardware devices. Agencies must now consider the future, what’s next in networking, and how to prepare their workforce for the inevitable changes.
Planning for Overcapacity
With the amount of change and growth that is constantly taking place in the federal IT sector, being able adapt quickly and plan for overcapacity is critical. As Armando Gavino of GSA mentions, having best practices in place to plan for overcapacity are essential. At GSA, they put together a team called the Infrastructure Advisor Group (IAG) which meets on a quarterly basis to discuss what the future network will look like for them, leaning on success stories and lessons learned from other agencies. Gavino also mentions how partnerships with industry are incredibly important as well.
At DISA, planning for overcapacity is a bit different. During the conversation, Dave Mihelic talks about a program called “software defined everything”, where the agency is looking across cloud computing and orchestration and automation to have everything happen on-demand.
The Future of the Workforce
The speed at which change is taking place in federal IT will undoubtedly change the workforce as we know it. In the final segment of the webinar, the group dives into some changes to the workforce they have seen and are yet to be seen. At DISA, Dave Milhecic believes that the role will really change for administrators who will be moving “up the stack” to be programmers, not just troubleshooters. At NOAA, Steve McIntyre says that they will likely depend on canned applications rather than customized scripting approaches in the future. Over the next 2-3 years, Solms believes that agencies will be focusing on how to get to the cloud. The next question will be what happens beyond that, and believes that the internet of things, applications based machine learning, and big data will very much come to the forefront.
To hear more about the future of software defined networking and how it’s impacted federal agencies, you can view the full webinar here.