Network inefficiencies holding back federal IT capabilities

The federal government's infrastructure could be improved significantly through network upgrades, leading to cost savings and better performance, according to a recent survey of network managers.

A recent MeriTalk and Brocade survey of 300 federal IT network managers revealed significant inefficiencies in the government's IT infrastructure. Survey respondents suggested they could slash their agencies' IT budgets by as much as 24 percent by taking full advantage of a number of key IT initiatives. With a federal IT budget of $80 billion, this would result in total savings of nearly $20 billion annually.

"The network is the yellow brick road," said Steven O'Keeffe, founder of MeriTalk. "It's in disrepair – pot holes and puddles. If Uncle Sam doesn't make repairs, we'll never get to Oz – or realize the savings potential of IT transformation."

According to the survey, the most important IT initiatives that can improve IT resource management are data consolidation, virtualization, cloud computing, remote access and infrastructure diversification.

Network limitations
However, the survey participants indicated that network limitations may prevent the federal government from making this progress. Two-thirds of respondents said their networks are not sufficiently able to meet current mission needs, suggesting that they are not at all capable of tackling larger IT initiatives such as these. The participants suggested that if the government could improve its network speed by 26 percent, it would experience $11.2 billion annual savings.

"Agencies should focus on the network to improve capacity, connections, reliability and security, and consider moving systems and applications to the cloud to generate additional savings," said Anthony Robbins, vice president of Brocade's federal business.

Yet while federal agencies are not equipped to take full advantage of these IT efforts, they are making some progress. Seventy percent of federal IT managers indicated that they have partially or fully deployed remote access initiatives, while 62 percent have done so in regard to consolidation initiatives.

Simplification needed
Speaking to E-Commerce Times, O'Keeffe indicated that simplification will be key to federal efforts to improve network structure.

"There are an estimated 15,000 networks just used within the Defense Department," said O'Keeffe, according to the news source. "That's just too complex and creates too many layers and involves too many non-standard operations."

By working with a third party to improve their data management, business processes and other IT considerations, agencies may be able to make significant progress toward achieving major cost savings.