Federal Government | NETSCOUT

Federal Government

Federal agencies face unprecedented pressures from a rapidly evolving technology landscape, rising public expectations and the need to operate securely in an increasingly interconnected world. At the same time, Congress is reining in spending, forcing agencies toward flat or declining budgets. In this challenging environment, agencies are shifting investments from costly maintenance and operation of legacy IT systems to 21st-century solutions that leverage shareable technologies, and they’re redirecting infrastructure investments from a traditional network-centric approach to a more user-centric model.

 

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The Obama administration has prioritized data center consolidation and cloud computing as key technology imperatives. To support the administration’s mandates, the Office of Management and Budget released the Federal IT Shared Services Strategy, a requirement of the 25-Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management that agency CIOs could use to help eliminate waste and duplication.

 

Another fast-moving trend, mobile computing, is forcing agencies to assess their infrastructures’ capabilities and capacity. Just a few years ago, mobile computing was barely on anyone’s radar. Today, users increasingly demand that agencies accommodate smart phones, tablet PCs and other mobile devices. User-driven interest in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) creates concern, because it promotes agency employees using their personal smart phones and mobile devices at work when their agency-provided devices don’t give them the ability to access e-mail and other services.

Impacts
The Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative mandates that agencies reduce the number of physical data centers they manage. But that doesn’t equate to reducing the equivalent of 50 data centers to one that’s 50 times the size of a typical data center. Consolidation entails a strategy for how to effectively compile and manage data.

 

In a shared services world, the infrastructure is no longer just fiber, [radio frequency] spectrum, laptops and servers. Going well beyond that, it’s an ecosystem that supports the agency’s mission, which in turn supports U.S. national security. This approach requires a mind-set change on the part of agency IT managers, who for decades have dealt with an infrastructure based on a one-to-one computing and communications paradigm. The new user-focused (instead of network-focused) standard is all about access. In that sense, the fixed infrastructure with which agencies traditionally have dealt becomes a dynamic, agile ecosystem of codependent functions

As an example, the Joint Information Environment (JIE) is the product of the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) IT Enterprise Strategy and Roadmap. JIE is a multi-year effort aimed at a fundamental shift in the operation of the Global Information Grid, the communications network that links DoD assets worldwide. It is intended to transform an overly complex system that delivers insufficient situational awareness to mission commanders into a much slimmer, standards-based, single network that’s more dependable and easier to manage.

Key Considerations
Monitor actual VoIP traffic to pinpoint issues for this critical application

 

Cloud Computing Call Details

While the potential for and benefits of data center consolidation may be appealing, federal agencies cannot afford to dive headfirst in to the effort. Numerous challenges can derail the consolidation project before it arrives at its desired destination. Furthermore, agencies must approach consolidation with a strategic, long-term perspective. Taking a long-range viewpoint requires an in-depth understanding of current network, application and service performance; planning and executing the transition to a new operating environment; and aggressively monitoring and managing the updated architecture to help ensure that it is continually achieving the benchmarks and metrics for success now and in the future.

Effective, persistent management of the consolidated data center is the key to unlocking and optimizing the return on investment for the effort. Unfortunately, it is also the most difficult step in the process, because legacy performance management tools (such as application flow monitoring, transactional views, packet analysis, simple network management protocol (SNMP) polling and stream-to-disc archiving) require multiple platforms and mitigate the advantages available as a result of consolidation. Federal agencies need a solution with the scalability, breadth and depth to acquire, integrate, retain, and present information that truly reflects performance – from operations, IT, and end-user perspectives – of networks, applications, and services within the consolidated data center.

Another key consideration is proactive pace-keeping with the demand for enhanced mobility. BYOD adoption, with or without IT approval, already has a tangible impact on agency wireless local area network performance and security. Unlike agency-purchased or -approved smart devices designed for enterprise use, BYODs are hard to predict, relatively diverse, and less robust. In fact, about half of NETSCOUT’ federal clients experience unauthorized BYOD connectivity and are concerned about bandwidth consumption.

 

TruView
Analysis and monitoring tools that provide the right visibility save both time and money. Instead of wasting precious budget dollars on an upgrade that might impact performance, spending should be directed to proper monitoring and analysis tools that can pinpoint problems on the network. In many cases, the root cause of a performance issue can be resolved by a configuration change, and often does not require expensive hardware upgrades. To preserve in-house intellectual capital, acquire tools with automated expert analysis and actionable data. This will help ensure that several IT users can read and share critical data and act on problem resolution, instead of relying on a single employee or contractor.

 

With the move toward data center consolidation and cloud services, IT engineers need a handle on network inventory, client-to-cloud performance, and application behavior throughout and beyond the migration. Tools with automated discovery, baselining, and application analysis can aid greatly in this process. There is a high price to pay for poor performance within government networks; in some systems, even lives can be at stake. Engineers must be properly equipped to optimize the networks and applications and be able to address issues in real time. Tools should ensure quick and stable uptime, while pushing actionable data into the engineer’s hands.

Benefits
A secure, stable, high-performance, budget-efficient network - even during migration to new cloud services or shared data centers - is critical for government IT engineers. Tools that provide the right visibility will reveal network problems and proactively prevent future ones. Even in environments that appear to be running well, high employee and contractor turnover make it difficult to keep intellectual capital in house. Automated analysis tools can equip engineers of all experience levels to quickly isolate and resolve problems in the increasingly complex network. Automated analysis and 24/7 monitoring proactively protect data from performance and security problems, enabling engineers to resolve issues before they affect the front line.

 

Solutions

TruView™
TruView leverages key data sources such as packet inspection, transaction analysis, flow records, and SNMP to present a correlated view of network and application performance. TruView provides this data in single, easy-to-understand dashboards with one-click, in-depth visibility. The appliance automatically calibrates itself to performance baselines, even at remote sites or with cloud-based applications. Simple dashboards and deep packet inspection allow for collaboration between network operations and engineering departments, giving each the critical data necessary to resolve issues.

OptiView XG

OptiView® XG Network Analysis Tablet
The OptiView XG provides unparalleled visibility into server and application performance, network infrastructure health, link utilization, and network service health. The analysis tablet is equipped with a 10Gig interface, which allows for link verification through line-rate capacity testing as well as lossless packet capture. OptiView XG’s Path Analysis and 1 Click NetTest features identify and analyze a specific network path, isolating issues/problems to a single link.

As well, OptiView XG’s ClearSight analyzer and application infrastructure feature helps determine and test application dependencies. The AirMagnet Analyzer, Spectrum XT, and Planner, also available on OptiView XG, are critical for identifying and resolving problems in the wireless environment, especially when preparing for and securing non-government-issued devices.

Network Time Machine

Network Time Machine™
The Network Time Machine allows network engineers to track application performance even in high-bandwidth environments that support thousands of users, while providing packet-level detail for past events. The NTM’s Atlas feature automatically searches terabytes of stored packet data, uncovering periods of degraded performance for critical applications and VoIP services.

AirMagnet Enterprise

AirMagnet Enterprise v10
This eye-in-the-sky AirMagnet monitors enterprise wireless networks for performance and security threats 24/7, alerting network engineers to problems. This system analyzes and supports the bring-your-own-device, since a mobile solution cannot be everywhere all the time. Sensors installed throughout the system ensure wireless visibility in all corners of the network.

AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer

AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer
The AirMagnet WiFi Analyzer – available on the OptiView XG or as a stand-alone tool - is the industry-standard mobile tool for auditing and troubleshooting enterprise Wi-Fi networks. IT technicians and engineers are equipped with the critical data needed to quickly solve end-user issues, while detecting security threats and wireless network vulnerabilities. AirMagnet WiFi identifies non-government issued devices, enabling IT to stay ahead of users as they connect to the network via phones and tablets. The on-board AirWise feature provides actionable alerts for performance and security problems, enabling technicians to resolve problems without expert-level radio frequency training.

OneTouch AT

OneTouch™ AT Network Assistant
The OneTouch AT enables client-to-cloud testing over wired or wireless networks. Application response time is measured and parceled by connection time, service response time, and network latency. With One Touch AT, engineers can troubleshoot connectivity through the wired or wireless network, while measuring network services hosted locally and in the cloud. Users can access the OneTouch AT remotely for collaboration with other members of the IT organization.

 

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