Insight by Ciena Government Solutions

Why agencies need to partner with industry to transform their networks

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people work. A significant portion of the federal workforce has almost exclusively teleworked for the last two years and some people are reluctant to return to the office. This change has forced agencies to redeploy assets and embark on network transformations that are still underway. In many cases, accomplishing transformation has meant turning to private industry partners like Ciena.

For example, one Defense Department division was having performance...

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The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people work. A significant portion of the federal workforce has almost exclusively teleworked for the last two years and some people are reluctant to return to the office. This change has forced agencies to redeploy assets and embark on network transformations that are still underway. In many cases, accomplishing transformation has meant turning to private industry partners like Ciena.

For example, one Defense Department division was having performance issues on a large, recently deployed private network. The division partnered with Ciena to perform a network evaluation. Ciena identified the source of the issues and was able to quickly resolve the situation by sending out appropriate engineering resources through its Implementation Service. Ciena also provided a customized training program for division staff through its Learning Service.

“Ciena’s services portfolio is really based on three primary functions: the ability to build networks, where we’re ensuring proper planning, design and implementation; operate those networks, where we monitor and support infrastructure operations to make sure customers are getting optimal performance; and then improving customer networks — where we enhance those networks — and a team’s knowledge and skills,” said John Birrane, regional sales director for national security at Ciena. “And really, this is all in an effort to accelerate what we call our customer journey to the Adaptive Network.”

Striving toward the Adaptive Network

The Adaptive Network is a combination of hardware, software, and services that enables greater network agility. It’s built on foundational elements that enhance network and business outcomes independently, but are a force multiplier when working together.

The vision of the Adaptive Network is what most federal agencies are currently striving for: the ability to have a network that can move and change with traffic flows. Part of the driving force is due to the newer, more mobile workforce; employees need to be able to work from wherever they are, whether that’s in the office, the field or at home.

But there’s also an element of continuity of operations that needs to be built in as well. Cybersecurity threats continue to increase exponentially, in addition to the continued threats from things like natural disasters or construction accidents, which have always been a hazard for networks. Federal agencies need to continue to provide services and support their missions in the face of outages, no matter their cause.

Toward that end, Ciena offers network exposure analysis, vulnerability assessments, and trusted infrastructure analysis as part of its services portfolio.

Tapping into needed talent

Attracting talent is often difficult for federal agencies, which struggle to compete with the private sector. This not only hinders them in maintaining the personnel required to keep up with their demand for technological transformation, but it also prevents them from finding the kind of talent that’s trained in newer, more innovative technologies.

Ciena offers both the kind of upskilling and reskilling services federal agencies desperately need, as well as supplemental staffing to help take some of the burden off federal employees so they have time for training.

“We take a very collaborative approach to working with clients on their needs and the support model that they are seeking,” Birrane said. “This is especially true with respect to Defense and national security customers, who are particular about what elements of their networks they are turning over, and what elements need to be maintained exclusively by government personnel. We make sure that there is an appropriate fit and an appropriate, trusted partnership.”

Achieving network transformation

Ciena provides federal agencies with the ability to gain scale and tap into the latest, most up-to-date technologies and efficiencies for their networks. That’s part of Ciena’s new network transformation service, which converges new wireless and wireline and converges them to provide the newest capabilities while still improving cost effectiveness.

“This is the general tip of the wave: A lot of our agencies are on extraordinarily old equipment. And in order to move to networks that do all the things that I just said, they need to bridge. And we are able to offer services that allow them to do that without completely eliminating their old systems,” Birrane said. “We have one of the few solutions that allows agencies to bridge so that they don’t have to completely rip and replace; they can migrate.”

Leveraging public-private partnerships is the first, most practical step any agency can take when it’s looking to transform its networks.

“Ciena has the ability to really come in and act as a trusted consultant and help with every aspect of an agency’s networking needs,” Birrane said.