The technology clock is ticking, as agencies move toward modernization

Federal Insights - Network Transformation and Modernization (via EIS) - July 8, 2021

Across the government, federal agencies have access to big money for IT modernization. Deadlines accompany the transition. The clock is running.

The question now is will that network transformation and modernization include state-of-the art technologies, like SD-WAN, or will some agencies get stuck in the legacy world?

At a recent virtual event, Federal News Network’s Executive Editor Jason Miller spoke about this with two federal managers: NOAA’s Jeff Flick and the Education Department’s Steve Hernandez.

“Eighteen months to transition the balance of our services is going to be quite a challenge,” said Jeff Flick, director of the Enterprise Network Program Office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“There have been so many different architectures that have landed and evolved within the organization over the last couple of decades and we are really focused on bringing those technologies and those architectures into a much more viable and maintainable environment,” Flick said on Federal Monthly Insights – Network Transformation and Modernization (via EIS).

The General Services Administration’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) offers the latest technology for those pursuing state-of-the-art transformation and modernization. The question will be: Are all agencies positioned to take advantage of that?

Flick expects the transition will be a hybrid environment.

“It’s not going to be pure,” Flick said. “A lot of the programs require other appropriations to modernize the other-end devices — the sensors and various components. So we’ll be working with those and transition off of the legacy TDM infrastructure as we can, especially those systems that are being shut down.”

The focus for Flick is to make sure he supports the transition into other technologies.

“Those that do have to transfer like-for-like today will be transitioned into service-based infrastructure as best we can as we move this forward,” Flick said. “This missions that we’ve had for so many years is dependent on certain architectures. And that takes a long time for the appropriations and the science.”

Over at the Education Department, they’re looking at zero trust as a “core component” in the plans for modernization and transformation.

“We defeated data center consolidation almost a decade ago,” said Steve Hernandez, chief information security officer and director of Information Assurance Services at the Department of Education.

“We’re looking at Cloud connectivity and how are we interconnecting cloud providers,” Hernandez said. “When we look at EIS, we look at it in terms of modernization in terms of not just connecting to these cloud providers, but where can EIS also serve as a catalyst to help collapse and in places consolidate some of those services that we’re getting from those cloud providers, or even act as the catalyst to consolidate the cloud providers proper.”

At NOAA, Flick breaks down the transition to modernize and transform into two pieces.

“One is transitioning off legacy contracts,” Flick said. “That’s very specifically what we’re being measured at is taking all of those inventories to zero on the legacy contracts. Getting all the services on EIS in appropriate task orders is a different task.”

Flick estimates that NOAA spends about 40% on commercial contracts.

“Once we get through the legacy contracts, we’ll be moving those commercial contracts over, as appropriate, onto EIS task orders,” Flick said.

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