Anthony Battista is Managing Director, Solutions Architecture at Verizon, specializing in network services and infrastructure modernization for state and local government and education organizations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated most state and local digital transformation plans. While most public sector IT leaders were thinking about network modernization before the pandemic hit, the demands of supporting their employees and constituents in the new environment have made digital transformation essential.
But many state and local agencies are struggling to identify the right investments to make their transformation a reality. The types of questions we hear the most are: What applications should I move to the cloud? What applications cannot be moved to the cloud? How do I get my agency to the cloud faster? And how do I make all of this happen securely?
The most successful modernization efforts take into consideration four pillars of digital transformation and application enablement. These pillars form the foundation of the real-time citizen-centric enterprise — an enterprise capable of ingesting data at scale, analyzing it and making real-time decisions based on that data.
The four pillars of digital transformation are:
- Connectivity: The network must support how and where your end-users are working.
- Visibility: Now that the network is often Internet-centric, it’s necessary to be able to see what’s taking place on the network from the user to the application and everything in between.
- Automation: Agencies should consider ways to automate the onboarding and offboarding of services and users.
- Security: An active defense must be tightly integrated but be able to flex and flow to meet the new attack vectors that are brought in by a hybrid connectivity model.
Of the four pillars, security is not only essential, but it is often the biggest pain point for state and local agencies. Most agencies have made significant investments in tools, and that tool-sprawl has made it difficult to find scale and flexibility during the modernization effort. More importantly, these tools are generating so much data that the agency enterprise is incapable of correlating and making sense of the data fast enough to stop attacks.
Consider out tasking
State and local agencies should consider the tactical and strategic advantages of “out tasking” to a managed service partner those functions that they are not able to do on their own. Out tasking is different and more strategically focused than wholesale outsourcing of network and security management. Whether those tasks are related to managing elements of an agency’s network, security or its entire security operations center (SOC), a managed services partner can help build the right model.
Looking beyond security, out tasking can be a valuable approach for all four pillars of the digital transformation journey, but particularly for addressing the two main challenges that most state and local governments are dealing with: aging infrastructure and not having the right infrastructure (or talent) for the post-pandemic operating environment.
Although the demands of the pandemic forced many agencies to solve these challenges on the fly, they remain fundamental to future planning. State and local governments will need to think about baselining what was modernized or changed in the past 18 to 24 months and how to remain flexible enough to adjust as conditions change in the future.
The question then becomes, particularly in a resource-constrained environment, what do I buy and what do I build? The answers to those questions will form the basis of an agency’s resource allocation model that meets its regulatory requirements and the mission outcomes established at the beginning of their transformation effort.
When it comes to buying decisions or considering professional services, agencies can use their existing partner relationships when they do not have a particular skill set in-house. Those partners, in most cases, are already connected to the broader technology ecosystem. They can introduce agencies to new possibilities and integration capabilities in other areas of their transformation journey that might easily have gone overlooked in the rush to meet the demands of a more remote workforce.
Tapping into managed and professional services is a tried-and-true way for state and local governments to establish the foundations for agencies of the future. It also provides a quicker way to test and adopt new technologies that they might not have been aware of, and which can help them prepare for the next challenge or disruption. By ensuring they have the right partnerships in place, state and local agencies can remain flexible, agile, and built for the future.
Find out more on how Verizon Professional and Managed Services can provide a full spectrum of network and security modernization solutions for your organization.