While many federal IT leaders understand – and embrace – the digital transformation imperative, being able to execute on it in a way complies with mandates, is budget-friendly, and avoids creating a second generation of legacy IT is a much bigger challenge. But while the task might seem nearly impossible on the surface, by laying the right foundation at the network level, the challenges are turned from proverbial mountains into molehills. But what technology has such transformational capabilities?
Recently we talked with Lamont Copeland, Director of Federal Solutions Architecture at Verizon about managed network services (MNS) and how an investment at the network level can help improve agency effectiveness and efficiency, but it turns out the benefits of MNS go far beyond this. In particular, investing in MNS helps agencies future-proof their IT infrastructure as it continues to evolve and also as data volumes grow at an ever-increasing rate.
Barely a decade ago, agencies operated primarily on-premises and the mission was largely in-office, or in siloed environments, like the battlefield. Today, agency operations span many different environments. Workers move between offices and remote locations, the battlefield is hyper connected, and data is stored not just in on-prem data centers but in the multi-cloud. This means that the ability to connect data sources to each other and stakeholders to data regardless of their location has become of paramount importance. But for Copeland, the need for interconnection and interoperability is greater than even this requirement. “Connecting networks to the cloud and ensuring the unhindered movement of data is so important and this is a key virtue of MNS,” Copeland shared. “But what’s often overlooked is the capability of an MNS platform to identify outages and show how an outage in one spot impacts the rest of the network.”
The ability to pinpoint outages and reroute network traffic can be critical to mission success today. “Consider for a moment a mission like that of the Department of Veterans Affairs,” he explained. “Late last month, the Office of the CIO at the VA held a media roundtable to talk about the impact of IT on the mission. Dr. Neil Evans, Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and Chief Information Officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, shared that since the pandemic started the VA has increased the number of telehealth visits using VA Video Connect from 2,000 a day to nearly 40,000 a day and these services have become more critical as VA hospitals serve COVID patients and veterans are reluctant to travel. Moreover to support veterans the VA has distributed more than 100,000 tablets to ensure their constituents are able to connect with clinicians and other healthcare personnel essential to their well-being. None of this would have been possible without technology like the cloud and managed network services that can scale at speed.”
While the pandemic might seem like an exceptional moment in time, the reality is that all agencies’ missions are evolving in unprecedented ways. “The need to connect people, be that caregiver to veterans, or the warfighter to central command, will only become more critical in the years to come,” concluded Copeland. “Right now, OMB is guiding agencies to deliver stakeholder and constituent experiences online. The time is right for an investment in foundational technology, like managed network services. Not only will this investment pay immediate dividends, but it will help enable agencies to scale securely and adapt to new technology and future mission needs.”