As the internet, digital and cloud-based solutions increasingly power the world’s businesses, commerce and general IT infrastructure, many California government municipalities face a growing challenge to adapt--they have 20th Century computer networks for 21st Century governments.
Take, for instance, a local government city municipality that recently looked to deliver increased government transparency and proactive communications to its constituents by expanding its digital and telecommunications services. Equipped with only its legacy multiprotocol label switching network (MPLS) – commonly found among many local businesses and government municipalities –the city struggled with accomplishing routine yet critical tasks.
Actions such as implementing patches and updating software over-burdened their bandwidth capabilities, which slowed system update times and created performance issues. The municipality quickly recognized the situation was unsustainable, especially as it sought to introduce more digital financing, security and reporting features. Additional performance issues grew as new applications caused for increased bandwidth demand. Further, MPLS on legacy TDM does not have the scalability as SD-WAN to meet the inherent demands of new initiatives.
But there exists a scalable solution. Advances in the world of networking have made it possible to blend legacy MPLS networks with high-speed broadband links to the Internet. Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN), an application of software-defined networking technology applied to a wide-area-networking connection, can unlock the power of this new architecture and seamlessly scale to support municipalities with locations across a city, county, region, state or multi-state service area.
This modern approach positions local governments to thrive in today’s digital age where multi-cloud systems, hundreds of Software-as-a-Service tools, data analytics and an explosion of devices connected to the Internet are prevalent. This complexity has changed the game for government networks and legacy systems simply cannot keep up. However, when municipalities integrate SD-WAN into their internet service, their networks can increases bandwidth and application capabilities at all locations, while offering government IT teams greater network visibility and control. Most importantly, SD-WAN improves government accountability and overall transparency by enabling digital modernization, streamlining constituent communications and giving employees more time to focus on strategic priorities.
Optimized internet, no matter the location
Government IT managers have long struggled with the growing burdens of managing a modern municipality’s IT infrastructure. When a new government office or building needed access to the internet, it was commonly done by routing that connection to a data center with high capacity internet and using various security mechanisms to filter the traffic. But it is expensive to link government offices using MPLS and remote offices often ended up with a patchwork of lower-performance, less secure network architectures.
SD-WAN provides an attractive alternative. With SD-WAN, IT managers can connect multiple locations with high bandwidth networks at a lower cost, all while ensuring security protocols remain in place. By leveraging a virtual control layer on top of an organization’s network infrastructure, SD-WAN enables centralized management of critical network functions, reducing the need for costly equipment, shortening provision times and allowing for better traffic management across a network.
Today’s local and state governments can connect operations directly to the Internet with a less expensive gigabit broadband circuit – up to 10 times less expensive than MPLS – which means an employee at a location 2,000 miles away has the same quick access to productivity tools, capacity and network performance as an employee in the city hall building.
Now that same employee is empowered to deliver on constituent expectations and specific job duties. That means blending the best of online and in-person interactions to provide ease of use and ensure government transparency.
Increased efficiency through network management
Software-driven networks like SD-WAN are the foundation for growth. They provide not only visibility and control across the organization, but more significantly, the ability to prioritize traffic and applications. Because not all network traffic is of equal importance, IT leaders can create policies for prioritizing bandwidth.
Moreover, these processes can now be intelligently managed through scalable pipelines and traffic path selection, and application-aware routing protocols that let the network adjust to demands in traffic. These features improve network reliability and application performance for all connected devices and applications across all locations.
More security, fewer headaches
SD-WAN also helps government IT employees struggling to deliver IT systems that are accessible to employees without being vulnerable to cyberattacks. SD-WAN offers built-in security features, such as firewalls, intrusion prevention and URL filtering. It enables governments to connect employees to key software applications whether they’re in the office, a coffee shop or an airport lounge, all with maximum security. Confidential files can be protected by segmenting and isolating traffic. This way, if one part of the network or an office is compromised, the entire system is not affected, and the data remains safe.
For many organizations, a key benefit of SD-WAN is that it can be rolled out incrementally while they leverage investments in MPLS and other network infrastructure. SD-WAN can be introduced with one or more offices without disrupting the existing network, like test-driving a car before buying. This makes it easy to evaluate the costs and benefits of this new network approach.
As we build the networks of the future, it’s important to remember that it’s about much more than simply offering connectivity to the masses. It’s about delivering new capabilities that transform digital experiences and enable people to focus on what they care about most. For government municipalities, that’s their constituents. And SD-WAN allows them to do just that.