Federal IT Worried About Increase in Network Complexity

The vast majority (81 percent) of federal network managers believe that network complexity can slow or halt IT performance objectives.

federal it and network management

Increasing complexity is one of the top three network management challenges facing federal agencies, with more than half of agencies admitting their network complexity has increased over the past year, according to a report from MeriTalk and Brocade.

Nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) said they believe network complexity will continue to increase over the next three years, and agencies with more complex networks are nearly three times more likely than others to experience frequent network disruptions.

The vast majority (81 percent) of network managers believe that network complexity can slow or halt IT performance objectives, and 68 percent said they believe the complexity of their network hampers their ability to implement new technologies, services, or capabilities.

"Reducing network complexity is a significant opportunity in federal government data center transformation," Anthony Robbins, vice president of Brocade’s federal division, said in a statement. "Agencies must move toward open, non-proprietary standards to simplify their networks. The resulting networks should be designed for, and use, products from multiple vendors. This will create a more reliable, lower cost network which is set up to move in the direction of software-defined networking. This modernized network will then provide the IT agility required to better meet agency missions."

Respondents estimated their agency could save 18 percent of their IT budget, or $14.8 billion government-wide, by reducing network complexity by half, and to get there, respondents recommend moving to open, non-proprietary standards.

In the past year, nearly all (94 percent) of agencies surveyed said they have experienced downtime that impacted their mission—19 percent said they had experienced more than 20 disruptions.

"The network is the road on which all government information travels," Stephen O’Keeffe, founder of MeriTalk, said in a statement. "Taking the road less traveled by – one with reduced complexity, interoperability, and diversification – will make all the difference, and is critical to agency performance and efficiency."

Improvements to network reliability (59 percent), network speed (55 percent), security 54 (percent) and streamlining maintenance (42 percent) were the top ways respondents felt network complexity could be reduced, followed by improving IT agility to better support the mission (37 percent).

Respondents also suggested adding bandwidth and increasing redundancy to simplify systems, as well as increasing virtual networking and software defined networking, resiliency, maximizing input/output (I/O) virtualization performance and flexibility.

"A network won’t simplify itself. Agencies need to push to reduce complexity in order to enjoy the benefits simplicity will bring – efficiency, cost savings, and innovation," the report concluded.