How State IT Teams Can Modernize Networks Now October 22, 2020 Tony Bardo SD-WAN , Network Management false Amid shifting workforce dynamics and increased need for government support comes an equally challenging demand for a more robust and reliable government network. Even before widespread telework, government IT professionals across the country were hard at work upgrading network infrastructure to meet the accelerating demands of mobile users and cloud-based technologies. Their diligent efforts at transforming infrastructure are even more critical now, as remote work has compelled agencies onto an accelerated path toward modernization. As governments in state capitals across the country look to adapt to a new status quo, IT professionals are beginning to embrace one solution in particular: Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN). SD-WAN can play a critical role in supporting the much-needed modernization of state government networks. The First Step to Network Modernization SD-WAN – and, specifically, Managed SD-WAN from a Managed Services Provider (MSP) – provides an essential and robust connection from government office headquarters across remote sites, branch offices, and field locations. An end-to-end network overlay, SD-WAN balances vastly different broadband access types and infrastructures across a network, leveraging intelligent path control, optimized cloud-access, WAN optimization techniques and multiple connections. The result is better traffic flow, improved application performance, and enhanced user experiences. In 2019, for example, the state of California’s Department of Technology (CDT) implemented a Managed SD-WAN solution which gave the department oversight of the IT modernization of all state-run agencies. Partnering with an MSP allowed CDT’s IT team to focus on their core business objectives and modernization strategy, while their MSP took on network operations, monitoring, troubleshooting, and carrier management. This solution provided CDT with the day-to-day operational support and performance oversight needed to keep site operations running smoothly while focusing the CDT team on the improvement and growth of their diverse network and agency needs. Today, remote sites have essentially proliferated as government employees work from their homes – significantly increasing the burden on government networks. Add to this bandwidth-hungry applications like virtual meetings and training applications, and networks may be severely strained. Managed SD-WAN helps alleviate that concern by providing fully managed, end-to-end integrated network solutions that strengthen connections, provide for quality of service and application performance visibility, and ensure remote network connectivity. Not to be overlooked, security should always be top-of-mind for any network modernization effort. Many Managed SD-WAN offerings have robust security, like Next Generation Firewalls, built into the SD-WAN platform and delivered as a single offering. Others allow the customer to choose from a host of pre-integrated security partners, providing flexibility and the option of maintaining their existing security design. Either approach allows for the deployment of security features such as 24/7 monitoring, immediate incident response as well as integrated security and network policy management and deployment. A Short-Term Challenge Sets the Course for the Future No longer an obstacle to “business as usual,” COVID-19 presents an opportunity to prepare for the future in a long-lasting and thoughtful manner. With so many employees working from home, network modernization is more pressing than it’s ever been, especially amid the proliferation of cloud-centric applications and the increased reliance of constituents on their state and local governments for information and resources. Managed SD-WAN can provide government IT infrastructure with a clear path forward to enable the highly reliable connectivity their employees need—no matter where they are working. State IT teams that make decisions today to address the needs for greater remote worker support, greater constituent access, and greater emphasis on cloud delivered services will be well positioned to deliver government networks that are needed -- not just for the next few months – but for the years ahead. 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