Future Technology Successes Depend On Modernized Networks
It’s almost hard to believe that we are once again at the beginning of a new decade. Take a moment to think about how much has changed in the past 10 years—cloud computing, virtualization, the Internet of Things, software-defined networks and the early stages of harnessing data analytics, to name just a few.
And now, we’re beginning to see the outline of the 2020s too, with artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA) and edge computing moving to center stage.
However, before any of these technologies, whether from the past 10 years or during the next 10, can reach their potential, they need a strong foundation— networks that are able to deliver advanced capabilities so that agencies can meet their ever-evolving missions. The future of almost all information technology modernization, at least when dealing with truly transformative technologies, pretty much has to start with network modernization.
Transforming The U.S. Census with Modernized Networks
Consider the U.S. Census Bureau, for instance. This agency’s purpose for existence is to conduct a decennial count of how many people are in the country. It’s the nation’s single largest peacetime mobilization effort. In 2020, for the first time ever, about half of American households—more than 125 million—are expected to submit their responses digitally.
Last year, CenturyLink began our efforts to help digitize the 2020 Census by providing the bureau with Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services at speeds of 40 Gbps or higher. The agency is in the middle of testing out those new network speeds now, to make sure it scales to meet the bureau’s requirements. And we are also supporting the public internet response system that will enable all those households to complete the census online, while giving the bureau access to the responses through secure cloud applications for the first time. All of that amazing technology will come together to foster an efficient and accurate census count.
In addition to providing fast, secure cloud connectivity, CenturyLink is working with the bureau to help raise awareness about, and participation in, the census. Everything from congressional redistricting to the allocation of federal funds to every state depends upon the accuracy and completeness of the 2020 census, so no effort will be spared in trying to ensure it all goes off without a hitch.
What’s Next? Everything Changes
There’s a host of new technologies that agencies will be looking to capitalize on. The General Services Administration’s Enterprise Information Solutions (EIS) contract, which could run through 2032 (!) if the agency exercises its options, is one of the primary contracting tools for agencies to modernize their networks and infrastructure. For example, we recently announced how we’re helping the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) to conserve and manage our natural resources by implementing secure network services and IT modernization solutions.
CenturyLink operates under the premise that it doesn’t matter what medium the user is in or whether they are inside or outside the network. Regardless, that network has to be able to enable virtualization, seamlessly converge all sorts of data, respond to programmable controls and adopt a level of intelligence that adjusts and learns, responding automatically to pre-programmed instructions.
For instance, here’s a real paradigm shift: We’re used to humans setting up contracts and authorizing procurements. In the not-too-distant future, though, there will be machines talking with other machines. And they will work together, without human intervention, to figure out how to optimize those same tasks. They will be doing advanced work like quickly setting up optimal capacity to match network demands within a specific contract’s defined constraints.
That kind of almost instantaneous response capability is needed to address the explosion of devices, applications and data. Attaining true edge computing—significantly improving latency for applications that are sensitive to delay, such as next-gen IoT for driverless cars—means automating many processes that humans normally control.
Thinking about the challenge strategically, agencies need to remember that the network is the foundation, and it has to be able to adapt to constantly changing circumstances, including security challenges. CenturyLink sees zero trust as the next-gen security environment, turning the entire network into a sensor. When something bad happens, the entire network organism knows it, responds to it and fixes the problem.
If you thought the past decade was eventful, hold onto your hats. We are about to experience life in the cyber version of the Roaring 20s. While network technology modernization will be leading the charge, we would also like to share some insights on the things you need to know to modernize your IT operation.
Learn more about how to modernize your network.
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