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Securing the Future of U.S. Digital Infrastructure

On December 9, 2015 industry leaders from Brocade, AT&T, General Motors and Facebook joined senior officials from the federal government, including U.S. CIO Tony Scott, to discuss one of the most pressing issues facing our nation, the Future of U.S. Digital Infrastructure.

The world has changed dramatically since aging networks were put into place. Twenty years ago there were 16 million Internet users and less than a million mobile devices. Today, there are 3 billion Internet users and more than 6 billion mobile users. By 2020, Gartner predicts that there will be 20.8 billion connected devices, up from 6.4 billion devices today.

This increased connectivity, coupled with the explosion of big data, cloud computing and other next generation technologies, is pushing commercial, federal, state, and local government network infrastructure to the brink. Simply put, existing network infrastructure was never designed to meet the missions, challenges or cyber threats of today. Specifically in the federal government, agencies spend nearly 80 percent of their budgets on the maintenance of these legacy systems, crippling their ability to innovate.

During the event Brocade CMO Christine Heckart discussed the need for network modernization across all sectors. According to Heckart, the government has an important role to play in modernizing our nation’s digital infrastructure. Specifically, the government must do three things: make modernization a top national priority, lead by example, and encourage investment in the modern network in a move away from legacy IT.

Echoing these statements, Tony Scott pointed to the urgency of network modernization in government, stating that, “We have to have a constant refresh cycle, the networks of yesterday will be obsolete…We have to change a frame of reference that says, we’re just going to put stuff in and leave it until it breaks.”

In order to help government achieve these goals of network modernization, industry leaders have recognized the New IP, an industry term for an innovative approach to networking that is built on an Ethernet fabric physical infrastructure, software-enabled, user-centric and based on open standards. The New IP enables agencies to redefine IT acquisition by scaling network costs to meet changing needs, allowing for innovation to help the federal government keep up with modern digital demands.

The level of interest and engagement at the event illustrates the building momentum to revitalize our nation’s aging network infrastructure. Industry and government leaders from both sides of the aisle must continue to work together to change our nation’s outdated frame of reference regarding digital infrastructure. Advancing this relationship will lead to innovative initiatives necessary to move government and enterprise IT infrastructure into the future.

For more takeaways from the event, check out some of the related press coverage:

Be sure to follow the hashtag #NewIP to stay connected to the digital infrastructure conversation on Twitter. To view videos of the two panel presentations at the event, visit: https://futureofusdigitalinfrastructure.splashthat.com/.

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