Changing the Network Conversation

On August 13, Brocade co-hosted the 2014 Federal Forum with MeriTalk, bringing together leaders in government and industry to talk about changing the network conversation to bring the federal government into the 21st century.  Change can be scary, especially to a community as risk-averse as the federal government – but change is also necessary – it’s the root of innovation.

Brocade’s CEO Lloyd Carney opened the day by talking about the fact that one can never look to an incumbent to bring about the next wave of innovation.  The Wang Processor, once ubiquitous in early days of the IT revolution, completely missed the boat on the PC revolution.  Apple outpaced the once-dominant Microsoft by leading the charge into the mobile marketplace.  We shouldn’t expect anything different from our networks.  The time for change is now, and it’s being driven by the increased adoption of open standards and multi-vendor acquisition models.

Technological innovation is moving faster today than ever before.  The wave of software-defined networking (SDN) has given birth to network functions virtualization (NFV), and in the private sector, this type of innovation shows no signs of slowing down.  The federal government’s outdated legacy infrastructure is badly in need of an overhaul, and many CIOs realize that delivering next-generation apps and services with ease and speed requires a highly automated, more efficient network environment.  Agencies are looking to unleash the power, intelligence and analytical capabilities of networks and deploy flexible, end-to-end cloud-based solutions.  The key to achieving these goals without blowing the budget is opening up competition and adopting open standards. Gartner has stated that including even one additional vendor in an IT network can save an organization between 15 and 25% on total cost of ownership (TCO).

Taking it a step further, network managers have traditionally had to rely on capacity forecasts and look-ahead provisioning to adequately resource network infrastructure ahead of requirements.  In the current capital-constrained environment, this has proved problematic.  In reality, leases and service contracts often involve significant penalties if an agency tries to change a contract during the initial period of an agreement (usually three years). Offerings that look beyond leasing, outsourcing, purchasing and financing can help balance the shifting requirements of buyers and sellers in an intensely volatile market. For example, a subscription model which enables IT buyers to add network equipment capacity through a monthly, fee-based pay-as-you-go option can provide agencies with the flexibility and agility they need in their IT departments.

Change is happening all around us in the federal IT market.  The network is the next frontier, and all eyes are on our federal IT leaders to see where this wave of change takes us.  The possibilities are endless, and more than 750 attendees at the 2014 Federal Forum proved they are ready to throw out the status quo.  Don’t be left behind – get the facts.

If you missed this year’s Federal Forum or would like to hear one of your favorite sessions again, please find all of the 2014 Federal Forum sessions here.

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