Navigating network modernization in state and local governments

Agency leaders, in a new report, see managed services as a viable path towards network modernization in the face of budget gaps and skill shortages.

Today’s networks are tough to manage and optimize, even for skilled IT teams. That’s particularly true at state and municipal agencies because of years of accumulated and increasingly outdated technologies and equipment, often from multiple vendors. A new report suggests that a sizeable portion of government officials are considering a different approach — utilizing managed services providers (MSPs) — to modernize and manage their networks.

Read the report.

The Future of Network Management” looks at public sector agencies’ challenges in managing their IT infrastructure and implementing new technologies. The study, produced for StateScoop by Scoop News Group and underwritten by Spectrum Enterprise, also explores:

  • the motivations and hesitations behind utilizing MSPs for network management;
  • the condition of their network, broadband and wireless infrastructure to meet their present and future IT requirements in providing public services;
  • the challenges and incentives guiding their network, broadband and wireless investment strategies; and
  • their perceptions of managed service providers as a means of providing technical and managerial assistance amidst persistent IT staffing shortages.

The report is based on a new survey of 184 prequalified program, operations, IT and security leaders at state and municipal government agencies.

Among the key findings:

The current state of WAN infrastructure

The findings indicate a mixed assessment of Wide-Area Network (WAN) infrastructure performance and cyber resiliency. State agencies generally view their WAN performance as “above average” compared to comparably sized agencies, with a notable 15% considering their infrastructure as “advanced.”

In contrast, most county and municipal agencies see their network performance as comparable to their peers, with none rating their infrastructure as cutting-edge. County and municipal agencies predominantly describe their cyber resiliency as moderate, while state agencies are more likely to consider their cyber resiliency as robust.

Modernization challenges and skill gaps

A significant barrier to modernization is the lack of budget resources, identified by over half of the respondents. Nearly half of the respondents, however, also pinpoint a critical need for expertise in designing and implementing modern network architecture, and specifically for optimizing performance, scalability and enhancing cybersecurity measures.

Managed services: A growing need

The study found a notable inclination toward considering bringing in MSPs, especially among state agencies. The main motivation, according to respondents, is a demand for cost efficiency, scalability and flexibility.  State and local officials also cited the need to support remote workforce and maintain business continuity as ongoing networking challenges, underscoring additional reasons for MSP support. At the same time, officials expressed concerns about losing control over IT operations and added security risks as deterrents to embracing the use of MSPs.

Future expectations

Another factor driving the consideration of managed services is the way IT investments are financed. The long-term sustainability of the capital expenditure (CapEx) model for financing network technology is viewed with growing uncertainty as technology changes outpace agency purchasing cycles. The shift towards an operational expenditure (OpEx) model, now increasingly common as agencies rely on cloud services, is seen as a potential solution for network infrastructure. It offers agencies various financial management advantages as well as a way to redirect the focus of their in-house IT management toward higher-priority concerns.

The study found that a majority of state and local respondents see the future of IT and network management evolving towards a blend of managed services and in-house talent. However, a significant proportion of IT executives polled said they envision managed services becoming the primary IT model.

Read the report to learn more about how state and municipal governments view the future of network modernization.

This article was produced by Scoop News Group for StateScoop, and sponsored by Spectrum Enterprise.

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