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SD-WAN: The Next Federal Network

Top of mind for Federal Government IT professionals is network transformation. The Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) offers improved application performance, less complexity and high security at a fraction of the cost of legacy dedicated network technology—a potential gamechanger for distributed agencies looking to modernize.

“Agencies that started transforming their networks early to SD-WAN have already seen major bandwidth increases at their locations and at a cost lower than their legacy dedicated services,” said Tony Bardo, assistant vice president of Government Solutions at Hughes. “When deployed as a managed service, SD-WAN reduces complexity, improves application performance and extends security to the edge, allowing the agency to focus on their mission, not their network.”

By the Numbers, Beyond the Budget
99% of global IT pros who have implemented SD-WAN are experiencing benefits:
57% improved network security
56% improved overall connectivity
53% improved network flexibility & agility
53% improved application performance
48% reduced overall costs

“Hughes understands the demanding modernization requirements that both commercial and government users have for daily operations,” said Janie Robinson, senior director for Hughes Defense and Intelligence Systems Division. “Intelligence organizations are looking to innovative industry partners like Hughes to quickly, effectively, and securely design and implement ‘networking-as-a-service’ to improve mission readiness.”

Moving Federal SD-WAN Forward
Federal agencies have a unique opportunity to transform their networks as they transition between the legacy Networx contract and the General Services Administration’s Enterprise
Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract. To take advantage of this potential tipping point for SD-WAN technology, agencies should:

  • Audit current network needs, specifically at branch offices.
  • Quantify the potential savings of coupling SD-WAN with MPLS services.
  • Discuss tangible benefits with agency IT leadership. Consider a managed service provider to increase automation and reduce complexity.
  • Draft an RFP based on service level agreements in a statement of objectives, rather than a predesigned network in a statement of work.

Where Does Government Stand?

While federal SD-WAN adoption is in the early stages, agencies are working to lay the foundation for modern networks:

29% of IT pros from civilian agencies
32% from DoD agencies say they’ve increased virtual networking and/or Software-Defined Networking (SDN) over the past two years1

The U.S. Army included SDN in their long-term network strategy: "By 2040, the Army expects every chain of command will be able to access its network from any location, and it is looking to SDN to help it achieve that goal2"

And federal IT Pros understand the benefits:
Federal IT pros say reducing network complexity is one of the top three most critical steps to enabling their new vision of government IT3

69% of Federal decision-makers say they depend on cloud access to complete work assignments4, and 84% agree network modernization is foundational to managing and improving
cloud application performance1

SD-WAN is even making its way into federal mandates. The latest iteration of the Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) initiative supports SD-WAN technology at agency branch offices as an initial common TIC use case5

1 MeriTalk’s Cloud Complexity Study
2https://cbcommunity.comcast.com/browse-all/details/sdn-powering-the-next-generation-of-government-networks
3 MeriTalk’s Reimagining Government IT Study
4http://cdn.govexec.com/media/gbc/docs/deloittecloud2017_1208v2.pdf
5https://www.meritalk.com/articles/tic-3-0-draft-removes-barriers-for-emerging-technology/

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