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Webinar: Network of the Future

Remote working is here to stay. It was likely “here to stay” well before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it certainly has become essential over the last several months. As agencies navigate this new reality and how it has forever impacted how we do our jobs, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) provides an avenue to connect users with the information they need, while also handling the increased capacity that comes along with remote working. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In this webinar moderated by our Federal Civilian CTO Mike Cole, learn the drivers, impacts and challenges of creating a software-defined network. Joining the discussion are Ravi Raghava, Chief Cloud Strategist in our Federal Civilian Division; Gary Slebrch, Director, Enterprise IT; and Brian Fogg, Chief Software Defined Network Evangelist.

Watch the webinar in full and read the recap below.

The Continued Utility and Evolution of Software Defined Networking

Raghava noted that even before the pandemic, agencies were rapidly trying to upgrade their networks in support of cloud-based services – including various software-as-a-service offerings, such as Office365 for example. The pandemic only accelerated that need. To provide support for those offerings, you need to have the ability to rely on your networks and the certainty that they can handle the capacity and the security you need as well. SDN makes that possible.

Slebrech talked about SDN and its impact on performance, using a red blinking light metaphor. He talked about how in the past “a red blinking light” signaling a problem meant 100 people had to help remedy that issue. Instead, with SDN, you can have a holistic picture of your network on one screen and you can pinpoint what is needed to do fix the issue. “Instead of looking for a needle in a haystack, you’re looking at a needle in your hand,” he said.

Fogg noted that federal employees, like those in the private sector, are dispersed and working over broad swaths of IT infrastructures that their employers may not control. He pointed out that today, in many organizations, 50% of the workload is occurring outside of data centers, and so automation is necessary to manage and secure this data. What’s compelling about SDN is its ability to offer that kind of automation as well as its emerging ability to understand data management policies and apply them proactively.

Said another way, SDN represents a critical evolution in networking. The next phase is intent based SDN, where networks can understand and apply policies automatically. It’s a convergence between artificial intelligence and machine learning, and network orchestration. Intent-based models, where networks understand the intent of certain policies or analytic constructs and automatically adjust in kind, will save tremendous amounts of time, resources and energy (while enhancing agility and adaptability) and will ultimately drive SDN adoption among agencies.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s when,” Fogg said. Customers may be reticent, he said, but as we’ve seen with Covid, when you’re suddenly presented with a new reality and have to adapt, you do it; and the seeds have already been sown for this change.

Also, be sure to check out this piece on GDIT’s approach to SDN and the many benefits it can provide.