Why SDN Matters to Government

Executive Summary

Network virtualization with software control, reflected in Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) technologies, will fundamentally alter the way telecom service provider network infrastructure is architected, specified, acquired, implemented, deployed, operated and secured. Concurrent with this dramatic transformation, most government agencies are planning to transition their networking solutions to the new 15-year GSA Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) program. Agencies that understand and incorporate these critical technologies into their planning will capture the considerable benefits while avoiding the associated risks. Those that fail to do so will be left with higher cost, lower performing communications, and likely will face a second complex, time consuming acquisition effort immediately following their transition to EIS. Government users simply cannot afford to be “left behind.”

SDN and NFV technologies matter to government, but each agency must determine how to use them to best serve their mission needs. Agencies should take a holistic approach to understand all potential benefits, risks, and cost impacts across the enterprise, considering the technical, performance, operational, contracting, budgeting, governance and human resources aspects of the transformation. Agencies should seek expert, non-conflicted analysis, advice, and technology assessment such as that provided by Noblis. Doing so can help them to separate marketing hype from reality, understand these technologies and related services in the government context, and chart an effective course to their successful adoption.