In 2018, federal agencies experienced a push to become more agile and adept at meeting the increasing needs of network demands. That’s not going to change in the coming year, as agencies are continually being asked to do more with less and to set mission-focused priorities while minimizing the time and resources spent on extraneous activities.

So, what can we expect to see next? Here are my top three federal network predictions for 2019.

Increased consumption model adoption

More and more federal customers are looking to adopt a consumption model for their software and network purchases. This type of model helps agencies save money on services not heavily leveraged and moves the purchasing budget from a capital expenditure typically relied upon for infrastructure purchases into the operating expenses for service consumption.

Generally, when our clients enter into an enterprise agreement, they wrap a number of different software entities together and then obtain licenses for their entire environment. This is not only economical for them, it also allows us to provide greater depth of service. The cloud-based model takes that a step further to include ownership of all the widgets that provide the networking for the data center.

Let’s take a wide area network as an example. Here at Force 3, we can take the routers, circuits, and bandwidth, put them together, and simplify the overall process for our clients. This not only saves times for agencies by eliminating the day-to-day mundane tasks typically necessary to design and maintain a wide area network, it also allows their employees to dedicate their newly available time to advancing the mission.

Holistic approach to modernization purchases

The first thing that comes to mind regarding “modernization” is updating legacy technologies. For agencies that can invest in network infrastructure now, making this type of long-term investment is something that can have a far-reaching impact — as long as it aligns with the agency’s mission and modernization goals.

In 2019, agencies will make strategic, holistic modernization purchases that aren’t just to solve for a current pain point but are in place to help better achieve their overall mission, both now and in the future. Crucial to successfully making these purchases is a modernization roadmap to understand how each purchase affects future modernization endeavors down the line. While updating legacy infrastructure is a key component of modernization, there are other parts that need to be focused on as well, such as processes and adaptability.

Modernization will create different challenges for different agencies, but it is important for all to make sure they incorporate the concepts of a software-defined, policy-driven model into how they approach technology. A top priority for agencies should be making sure new investments in network technology are flexible, rather than a point-in-time solution, to ensure they maximize their capabilities in the future and continue to support their mission as a whole.

More network automation to bridge the skills gap

As agencies continue to rapidly adopt new technologies into their infrastructure and architectures, they face a challenge in the number of resources available who understand them. There are only so many people with the level of depth and experience necessary to handle new-edge technologies. Unfortunately, there is no sign of this skills gap closing anytime soon. Due to the pressures of modernization, agencies can’t stay in a holding pattern waiting to find the ideal employee. I predict the need for more highly skilled employees will lead to a widespread increase in the adoption of network automation solutions to handle these skills-based tasks.

In addition to the skills gap, people are being asked to do more with less on a day-to-day basis, and it’s increasingly important to make automated tasks consistent and reliable. The good news is that intelligent, next-generation tools provide the ability for someone with less technical knowledge to be able to implement automation tasks. For example, instead of knowing how to put a line-by-line configuration in place, we can put in some characteristics related to desired services, the address for the device, and then have the automation software take care of everything else.

Automated tools not only provide consistency across the board, eliminating the opportunity for human error, but they also enable a consistently secured experience for users as well as a consistent environment to grow in scale.

 


Interested in finding out how we can support your agency’s 2019 networking goals?
Email estuhl@force3.com to learn more.

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