Federal agency IT, network and procurement teams are neck-deep in preparing to transition their networks to the new GSA EIS Contract from the previous GSA Networx family of contracts. Savvy agencies are making the most of this transition period by planning, not just for a transition, but for a real network transformation in the form of the software-defined wide area network or “SD-WAN.”
In the commercial sector, businesses are rapidly adopting managed SD-WAN solutions. And for good reason. A managed SD-WAN reduces network complexity, slashes service costs and brings new levels of optimization, automation and security not available with legacy dedicated networks. State agency networks are not very different from those of a commercial enterprise when it comes to the demands and complexities of a distributed network. What’s more, businesses and federal government agencies looking to transform their networks over time, rather than all at once, are planning “edge-first” implementations. This approach allows for a calculated, controlled and cost-effective evolution from a legacy network that’s not up to the task of supporting cloud-based apps to an optimized network that uses best of breed transport – be it cable, fiber, 4G or satellite – at each location.
At a recent NASTD regional seminar, the room was abuzz with “SD-WAN.” This is a promising sign as so many stand to benefit from its adoption. Agencies will benefit from multipath network connectivity at most, if not all, of their sites – creating much needed redundancy and resiliency. SD-WAN also reduces connectivity costs for agencies by leveraging low-cost and widely available broadband access, eliminating the need for new dedicated access lines. Citizens benefit from more digitally-enabled agencies that can fully exploit all that the cloud has to offer, from electronic record-keeping to crime data analysis.
States with large rural areas also stand to benefit from SD-WAN because they are more than likely to have locations beyond the reach of terrestrial network services. By leveraging SD-WAN from a Managed Service Provider (MSP), agencies can get a full suite of broadband services, including satellite, which offers a safety blanket of 25 Mbps download speeds everywhere – including where terrestrial services are lacking.
Across enterprises of every type – from franchise and multi-site businesses to Federal and state agencies – SD-WAN implementations are on the rise. Bringing a host of benefits to the enterprise and their customers, the next generation of networking technology is here, now, and enabling organizations of every kind to focus on their missions, not their networks.