Network modernization is imperative for federal agencies leveraging next-generation technologies that claim greater data transfer rates, faster communication, and more connectivity and mobility for improved operations and delivery of services.

At the beginning of this year, Congress offered federal agencies the required resources to release multi-year transformational projects by contributing $1 billion to the Technology Modernization Fund. It is basically a revolving fund that provides agencies with five-year loans for IT modernization projects that showcase a lucrative return on investment. The capital influx will improve the initiative of the agency to modernize and secure networks.

A lot of network managers are assessing projects to figure out whether the agency can make the most from the network modernization investments. And the answer will rely on the specific mission of the agency, existing infrastructure, and future technology plans. When it comes to making the most from network investments, agencies must consider the following factors.

Looking Above 802.11 Wireless

Various agencies have old network equipment that caters to the network requirements of today but may not address the mobile connectivity requirements of the future generation. Most of them have an iteration of 802.11 wireless standards; however, the fast modifications in that technology could be older than five years. Agencies are now considering Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, and soon Wi-Fi 7 as well. These wireless technologies will provide enhanced throughput and connectivity to mobile device users, latency-sensitive applications, and internet-of-things devices. Furthermore, agencies must make sure that the upgraded network infrastructure is designed to accommodate the capabilities of upcoming wireless networks.

Within The Wiring Closet

Some easy network upgrade fixes center around multi-gigabit Ethernet access. The status assessment of the access switches within the wiring closet is where you should start. Switching legacy switches with modern stackable devices that provide more capacity uplinks, higher power-over-internet abilities, and multi-gig interfaces is a great investment. Investing in these switches is an easy way to capitalize on the current cabling infrastructure found in the building.

Adhering To Strong Security Protocols

Agencies should maintain strong data security across the enterprise. Wired security or physical layer security is a vital aspect of extensive security strategy. Network managers need to stand on guard against unauthorized access tapping or intrusion of cables and noncontact eavesdropping.

Such security threats can cause data theft, unscheduled downtime, or network degradation. Additionally, network managers must invest in secure and strong port blockers and securing patch cords that protect unauthorized access to the copper and fiber ports at patch panels, switches, and outlets via a color-coordinated locking mechanism integrated into the port.

Monitoring Cabling Infrastructure

Cabling is an important aspect that supports the efficient functioning of the mission of the agency today and will continue to be integral with rising bandwidth requirements. What kind of copper is running from your closet to the desktop? Which fiber infrastructure is installed, and when was it placed?

The latest category of cabling is 6A which offers high-performance for enterprises and supports 10 gigabits per sec speeds. However, the most recent OM5 wideband multimode fiber optics efficiently caters to the increasing bandwidth needs of the data centers. Agencies require reliable, high-performance cabling infrastructure that will continue to meet future demands.

Facilitating Data Center Infrastructure

Federal managers need to maintain a high level of accessibility while providing quick responses to increasing changes in operations, applications, and demands. Irrespective of whether or not an agency has transitioned into the Cloud-Native route for network Modernization, many systems, applications, and equipment continue to be on-premises.

Will the infrastructure be able to connect the important applications, storage, and network assets of the data center? In case the answer is no, the agencies should integrate platforms that make it easier to add routers, servers, switches and storage solutions while taking care of the pitfalls of cooling airflow, cabling density and reduced rack space.

Take A Comprehensive Approach

TMF provides agencies with an opportunity to make considerable network infrastructure modifications. It is imperative for agencies to have a comprehensive approach instead of expanding small aspects of the network. Federal managers must look at the entirety of where the network is at present and where they want in the near and far future. Leveraging next-generation contracts, agencies can make that happen.

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