Federal agencies rely too heavily on shared networks — industry report

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Federal agencies are too dependent on insecure, shared IP networks — and they know it, according to a survey commissioned by data and storage networking company Brocade.

Forty-four percent of agencies’ mission-critical tasks and 37 percent of business-critical tasks use a shared network, even though they are less reliable compared to a dedicated network, according to the report released Tuesday

At the same time, almost half of the IT experts surveyed also said maintaining a secure environment could be a problem with shared networks, while 34 percent also said they feared losing data. Others cited problems with response times, latency and prioritization.

“Using shared storage networks for mission and business-critical workloads compromises agency effectiveness,” Vice President of Brocade Federal Anthony Robbins said in the study’s release. “Fibre Channel is the most trusted and widely deployed storage network infrastructure for mission-critical workloads. But for business-critical workloads, dedicated IP storage networks are essential to ensuring security, mitigating data loss and delivering better application performance.”

Overall, security and data loss are the top-two storage concerns across all networks, agency leaders said in the survey. The third biggest concern is an insufficient budget. 

Relatedly, when asked why their agency hasn’t deployed a dedicated network, 54 percent said they do not have the funding. The result means agencies get stuck with older systems, even though dedicated servers can handle more data in a safer, cheaper and more reliable way, Brocade’s Chief Solutions Architect Steve Wallo told FedScoop.

“The most important information and data is on the least secure system,” he said.

With the rise of big data and more Internet of Things devices, it’s a time of unprecedented storage growth, according to the study. Currently, 45 percent of the respondents’ storage capacity is IP based, while 78 percent of respondents expect this capacity to grow by at least 10 percent.

For the survey, which was conducted by research company Market Connections, researchers polled 200 “federal government IT decision makers” in October 2015. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 6.9  percentage points.

Contact the reporter on this story via email: Jeremy.Snow@FedScoop.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyM_Snow. Sign up for the Daily Scoop — all the federal IT news you need in your inbox every morning — here: fdscp.com/sign-me-on.

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Agencies, Brocade, Government IT News
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