Insight by Verizon

Modernization starts with the network infrastructure

As federal agencies modernize their applications and digital services, they’ll achieve a more significant lift if they also update their network infrastructures.

“There’s a lot of aging infrastructure that the government has to start working through so that they can bring in a lot of the latest technologies to meet more of the mission set that they’re trying to solve for,” said Lamont Copeland, managing director of federal solutions architecture at the Verizon Business Group.

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As federal agencies modernize their applications and digital services, they’ll achieve a more significant lift if they also update their network infrastructures.

“There’s a lot of aging infrastructure that the government has to start working through so that they can bring in a lot of the latest technologies to meet more of the mission set that they’re trying to solve for,” said Lamont Copeland, managing director of federal solutions architecture at the Verizon Business Group.

Data presents a key reason for the need to modernize the network, Copeland said. Contemporary digital services as well as analytics to ensure economy and efficiency of agency operations both require movement of large amounts of data.

Plus, today’s high percentage of remote and teleworking employees also drives the need to update networks, he added.

Modernized networks will have different topologies than the last generation, derived from the availability of greater bandwidth and greater use of distributed computing.

Prepping networks for influx of devices

Shape

Future Network Infrastructure Strategy

There’s a lot of aging infrastructure the government has to start working through … to meet more of the mission set that they’re trying to solve for.

Scott Andersen, distinguished solution architect at Verizon Federal, pointed to drones as an example. With the advent of ubiquitous 5G and high-speed wired networks, drones can offload onboard computing to clouds or edge compute centers. Operators could replace the CPU and storage with more batteries, enabling longer flights.

Andersen said a modernized network can thereby support what he called the Internet of Things 2.0

5G, and recent improvements in 4G, enable high levels of direct connectivity for field applications as exemplified by COVID-19 mass testing and vaccination sites, and for kiosks.

“We’re actually seeing more primary connections using this technology,” said Bryan Schromsky, managing partner of federal government and public safety for Verizon Wireless. “And I think where it gets exciting is offering more digital services to the citizens by using this technology.”

New ways of working, high-speed wireless both outdoors and within buildings, and modernized applications all drive both new network technologies and also a whole new architectural approach. A failing of the enterprise architectures of yesteryear is that despite their detail they didn’t consider data transportation protocols, Andersen said.

Leaning into application-aware routing and NaaS

Shape

SASE

Within network as a service, there is a really important concept called application-aware routing. It’s quality of service on steroids.

The need to integrate transport protocols more closely into enterprise architectures led Verizon to develop network as a services capabilities, he said. NaaS supports application-aware routing, which takes that last step of matching application requirements with the best available way of transporting them and takes advantage of the cloud for bursty activity, Andersen explained.

For example, in a continuous video feed from a fixed camera or drone, a surveillance application might be designed to record movement. A search-and-rescue application might employ sensors detecting presence of live persons at a disaster scene. In both cases, users only need to see the exception — the opening door, the warm body — not the mass of data collected for which they have no use. The goal is to select and transmit only the data the user needs at that particular moment, Andersen said.

“That’s what application-aware routing allows us to do,” he said. “Information then can immediately be routed out of the locale where the people are and sent to somebody that can act on it.”

Application-aware routing can also allocate resources to a crucial, bandwidth-intensive application such as a multiperson videoconference.

“You don’t lose packets, you don’t lose connections,” Andersen said. He added that these dynamic network services occur automatically and improve through the use of artificial intelligence, relying on machine-learning algorithms to continually refine use based on need. NaaS can supply bandwidth in real time, for instance, if during a two-way video call one party sends a terabyte-sized file to the other party. Andersen called it “quality of service on steroids.”

Moving toward zero trust networking principles

Modernizing network infrastructures also provides an opportunity to establish zero trust architectures and to implement secure access service edge technologies, the Verizon experts added. Both zero trust and SASE are critical for supporting edge computing as agencies move away from hardened-perimeter network infrastructure models.

It’s no longer feasible to support what Copeland characterized as the Tootsie Pop model, where all activity can be contained within a single on-premise network perimeter.

As for getting started on network infrastructure modernization, he advised taking an end-to-end enterprise inventory.

“Understand what you have, understand your assets, then understand your outcomes and performance that you want to achieve,” Copeland said.

Listen to the full show:

Featured speakers

  • Bryan Schromsky

    Managing Partner, Federal Government & Public Safety, Verizon Wireless

  • Lamont Copeland

    Managing Director, Federal Solutions Architecture, Verizon Business Group

  • Scott Andersen

    Distinguished Architect, Verizon Federal

  • Tom Temin

    Host, The Federal Drive, Federal News Network