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INDUSTRY INSIGHT

Catching the digital transformation wave

It’s hard enough for public sector agencies to keep up with current digital modernization imperatives, without having to worry about the next wave of emerging IT technologies and regulations on the horizon.

Luckily, we believe we can look to the digital trends reshaping business for important clues about how to approach today’s government transformation initiatives to help ensure success tomorrow. These include:

  • Innovations in high-speed networks, such as 5G, are poised to dramatically accelerate critical agency data collection and analysis efforts. For example, drones that act as first responders can now be combined with internet-of-things networks and artificial intelligence platforms to detect national threats and speed life-saving information and insights prior to any boots hitting the ground.
  • Distributed data management and cybersecurity challenges weigh heavily on today’s government IT organizations. To expedite the analysis of the vital intelligence necessary to protect everything from ports of entry to government employees under continuous phishing attacks, AI, machine learning and quantum computing platforms will increasingly be distributed.
  • Blockchain is proving to be a valuable societal tool, whether the focus is on fighting voting fraud or combatting diseases. Even now, multiple, interconnected blockchain networks are being developed to solve some of the public sector’s most sensitive transaction validation issues.
  • Changing data privacy and protection laws and heightened privacy concerns are inspiring more progressive and distributed security processes, especially within agencies that require a data chain of custody, such as the Department of Defense. Creating a trusted network border security platform can help ensure data can only be accessed on a “need to have” basis.
  • As the federal cloud-first mandate has transitioned into the current administration’s “cloud smart” strategy, more guidance is available on how to approach cloud security and procurement and build the workforce skills to drive cloud adoption and implementation. At the same time, cloud complexity is escalating as agencies increasingly leverage hybrid/multicloud infrastructures to optimize and scale application performance. In response, cloud-based hardware security module services are on the rise as agencies move to simplify hybrid/multicloud data encryption key management.

Private interconnection: Laying the foundation for successful government digital transformation

For government agencies to capitalize on these powerful digital trends while solving the transformation challenges they introduce, they need a fast, reliable, scalable and secure interconnection platform. According to the second annual Global Interconnection Index (the GXI) -- a market study published by Equinix that tracks, measures and forecasts the global interconnection bandwidth growth between businesses and organizations -- public-sector digital transformation is rapidly accelerating private-sector interconnection. Interconnection bandwidth reflects the total capacity provisioned to privately and directly exchange traffic, among a diverse set of counterparties and providers, at distributed IT exchange points inside carrier-neutral colocation data centers. The GXI estimates a 66 percent compound annual growth rate from 2017 to 2021 in installed interconnection bandwidth capacity in the government and education sectors. Agencies can build a high-caliber, private interconnection foundation that can accommodate the requirements for this escalating private interconnection growth by following these three best practices:

1. Re-architect the information exchange. Remember those drones sending critical data over 5G networks? Direct and private interconnection distributed out to the edge, where most IoT devices reside, shortens the distance between the devices transmitting data and the digital resources analyzing it. The resulting low latency enables the kind of lightning-fast insights that save lives. Agencies can get started by re-architecting their centralized network as a distributed, interconnected fabric of private exchange control points that will bring new collaboration and data sharing capabilities. It puts data proximate to dense clusters of networks, clouds and information exchanges required for real-time information collection, exchange and analysis.

Agencies should also create a strong, border security platform that segments and controls data traffic -- bypassing public internet risks -- to address those scenarios that require the highest level of cybersecurity. This might include protecting blockchain networks; securing data repositories for data privacy, protection and compliance; and stopping data breaches initiated by unwitting employees and malicious bad actors.

2. Integrate capabilities with hybrid/multicloud. For cloud-smart strategies, hybrid/multicloud infrastructures can be deployed into localized control points to simplify application, data and multicloud integration and streamline interagency operations. Government executives should look to move applications into clouds, choose API-based services for elasticity and work with compliant partners to develop flexible, consumption-based contracts that can be leveraged for more cost-effective hybrid/multicloud access by a greater number of agencies. For example, some state and federal government IT organizations have set themselves up as brokers of cloud services for other agencies to consume, removing much of the complexity and cost from cloud adoption.

3. Enable a digital government. Software-as-a-service-based office suites and information exchanges can transform agencies with interconnected digital government. Government should build a smart nation with sensor-based trend analysis, creating actionable insights regionally and nationally, and ensure agency mission-critical application resilience with integrated, policy-based disaster recovery tools.

Government modernization is moving agencies from traditional IT architectures to more-distributed, interconnected IT platforms that can directly and securely connect all the locations, people, clouds, data and devices needed for success. Regardless of where a government agency is in its digital journey, creating a robust private interconnection foundation now will prepare it to ride the next wave of digital innovation and transformation with greater agility.

About the Author

David Peed is vice president of Equinix Government Solutions.

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