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FCW : March 30, 2016
It works by monitoring and man- aging the entire end-to-end capacity of the WAN to see, in real time, what the various flows of traffic over the network require. It then automat- ically balances the traffic volumes with the available bandwidth of the broadband connections. One of the three components of ActiveTechnologies, ActiveClassifierTM, dynamically classifies traffic according to quality of service needs. Another, ActiveQoSTM, balances both the up- stream and downstream traffic flows according to the network capacity at each site in the WAN, ensuring latency- sensitive applications run reliably, even as the bandwidth available over the broadband connections varies. Finally, ActiveCompressionTM effective- ly increases the “virtual” bandwidth available at each branch site, reducing WAN congestion and improving application performance. All of this optimized WAN performance is delivered over regular broadband links, without the need for agencies to pay for expensive extra capacity. It also provides the kind of high-level network performance upon which the government enterprise is increasingly dependent. THE NEED FOR SPEED That hasn’t been enough to dispel all fears, however. A government-wide MeriTalk survey of network managers in 2013 found pervasive fears that the “big five” technology transitions pushed by the Obama Administration to overhaul federal technology operations—cloud com- puting, big data, security, mobile and data-center consolidation—could overwhelm network capacities. All but a few of those managers surveyed said their agencies would be at risk of major network bottle- necks if all five initiatives were fully implemented simultaneously. Even if they weren’t, more than half of the respondents expected the initiatives to produce bandwidth problems. A slightly smaller percentage expected network latency problems either way. The pressure to modernize IT has only increased as the demand for new applications and services continues to rise. Devastating data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management and other agencies have sharpened the focus on the need for dramatic security upgrades. The focus now seems to be on accelerating delivery of solutions to provide better value for agency IT users, which in turn will help better manage the risks. Agility is the order of the day. Agencies need to do a lot more and a lot sooner. At a recent federal IT conference, Federal CIO Tony Scott called “speed to market” the measure of success. In today’s world, he says, “speed means everything.” At the same time, as agency budgets continue to tighten, IT managers find themselves unable to devote sufficient resources to meeting these needs. Most of what they do is devoted to maintain- ing legacy infrastructure. “We spend all of our cycles becoming firefighters,” says Richard McKinney, CIO of the Department of Transportation at the same conference. “We fight fires all the time because our legacy construct requires that of us.” What’s the message from this? As agencies strive to modernize their core networks and provide the kind of performance Scott’s “speed to market” requires, they’re increas- ingly unable to manage growing network complexity. Most agencies, even the smaller ones, find them- selves managing sizable enterprise IT infrastructures. Remote offices and teleworkers demand access to the same applications and services that headquarter users get from those core MPLS networks. The level of complexity is magnified by the fact that there’s no longer a single set of IT services delivered to every user and every location. That might have worked when the only services were e-mail and basic Web access. Today’s digital services are a heady mix of voice, video and data with varying bandwidth requirements depending on where, when and how they are needed. The days of the “one- size fits all” network are long gone. That’s a problem for many agencies, which still approach bandwidth the way they have for years. Traditionally, that means buying an extra dedicated T1 line, or an even more expensive T3 line, for distributed sites. That’s motivated by the simple need to meet bulk capacity requirements. However, it’s an expensive solution. It provides relatively limited bandwidth at a per-megabit cost many times that of broadband channels, such as cable, DSL or even satellite. It’s also a single-minded solution. You still pay for the T1 whether your agency uses all or just some of the Sponsored Content “We spend all of our cycles becoming firefighters. We fight fires all the time because our legacy construct requires that of us.” — Richard McKinney, CIO, DoT THE MODERN NETWORK ADVANCED NETWORKS BRING SPEED, AGILITY AND COST SAVINGS 0316_EOD_Hughes_FCW_Mar30_final.indd 2 3/8/16 1:39 PM
March 15, 2016
April 15, 2016