How managed services can help public sector network performance

Author: Rose de Fremery

Date published: January 8, 2024

Cybercriminals are targeting government agencies with damaging and costly cyberattacks that degrade network performance and raise the specter of destructive data breaches. According to the Verizon 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report,1 Public Administration was the industry with the most cyber incidents—recording around one-fifth of total incidents. Of these, 17.8% had a confirmed data disclosure.2

At the same time, state and local government agencies are facing an IT skills shortage that has left them struggling to properly staff their IT departments. In a National Association of State Chief Information Officers survey, inadequate availability of cybersecurity professionals and inadequate cybersecurity staffing were the second and third most cited barriers to addressing cybersecurity challenges.3 Without the needed expertise, government organizations are having challenges keeping up with the rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape and making sure their networks perform as required. Since these agencies often handle large amounts of personally identifiable information (PII), it is particularly urgent that they identify the necessary solutions to secure their networks.

Managed network solutions can help state and local governments overcome their IT staffing challenges, strengthen their cybersecurity and improve network performance. By serving as a strategic lever in this way, managed services can enable government organizations to execute timely network transformations and better manage the considerable cyber risks they face today.

Network modernization is an urgent government priority

According to the 2023 report on state and local government IT spending priorities, when asked about the most challenging aspects of network modernization, 53% of respondents cited the need to protect the network from cybersecurity threats.4 Forty-eight percent of them have already initiated network transformation projects with the goal of improving network security, while 32% of them are just starting this journey and 18% say they have one planned.5

Network performance is the other top focus area of network transformation initiatives. Forty-nine percent of respondents are already underway with projects to improve network performance and reduce latency, while 30% of them are just beginning their efforts, with 21% having planned initiatives in the pipeline.6

Managed network solutions can strengthen cybersecurity in government

Managed services like network as a service (NaaS) can help government agencies tame network complexity and strengthen their cybersecurity postures. NaaS is an advancement in network infrastructure that centers on software-defined networking, cloud-centric solutions as opposed to the hardware-focused network infrastructure models of the past that required hefty upfront capital expenditures and did not easily scale. These traditional networks also required intensive IT and security resources to maintain and secure—for example, by keeping a constant eye out for updates and security patches that would address emerging threats.

With the flexibility that managed network solutions like NaaS make possible, however, government agencies can select the network resources they require and pay only for what they need from within their operating budgets, quickly transforming their networks as the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve. This modern and more flexible approach to provisioning and consuming network resources allows state and local governments to deploy network services faster and adjust them with greater agility. NaaS also features powerful automation that helps government agencies complete their network transformation initiatives in less time. In addition, NaaS can facilitate the implementation of cybersecurity strategies like zero trust network access (ZTNA).

The potential of managed network solutions like NaaS is not lost on government agencies. As the report notes, 55% of government IT leaders say they would consider NaaS as part of their modernization objectives. The top reasons they cited are better security (50%), the ability to free IT staff for more important tasks (47%), better risk management (46%) and improved performance and functionality.7

Managed network solutions can improve government agencies' network performance

When state and local government agency networks experience latency and other performance issues, their ability to serve constituents is directly impacted. NaaS can help them optimize network performance, enhancing their ability to deliver on this critical mission.

Software-defined wide area networking (SD WAN) capabilities automatically identify the most efficient way to route network traffic, reducing the likelihood of latency that degrades application performance. NaaS also enables end-to-end visibility across the WAN, allowing IT teams to better monitor and respond to network performance issues before they affect employee productivity or constituent services.

With NaaS, government agencies can create a more elastic WAN that adapts to their changing requirements and maximizes the return on their technology investments. For example, because NaaS can optimize the allocation of network bandwidth, it decreases waste by reducing the need for providing extra bandwidth to cover peak periods of usage—bandwidth that would otherwise go idle at other times of the year. In this way, NaaS can unlock cost savings and deliver a leaner, more operationally efficient network infrastructure.

Improve network performance and security with managed services

State and local governments are being targeted with an array of attacks that are as sophisticated as they are serious. Public sector agencies know they must transform their networks to improve their cybersecurity and make their networks run smoothly, but an IT skills shortage stands in the way of achieving this goal. Cost is also a concern at times when government and IT security teams must work with comparatively smaller budgetary resources.

Managed network solutions can bridge the gap, enabling state and local government agencies to refocus on their core mission while improving network performance and security, leveraging strategic partners for these capabilities (orchestration, management, control, analytics for routing, switching, firewall, etc.). With the powerful suite of capabilities that modern network infrastructure like NaaS offers, government agencies can execute their mission-critical network transformations and gain the crucial agility needed to serve their citizens even in today's age of relentless cyber threats.

Learn how Verizon's managed services can help your agency improve network performance and security.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.

1 Verizon, 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report.

2 Verizon, 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report, Industries: Introduction, Table 2.

3 Deloitte-National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), 2022 Deloitte-NASCIO Cybersecurity Study, 2022, page 3.

4 Market Pulse: State/Local Government IT Spending Priorities, Modern Connectivity is Essential to Transform Momentum, 2023, page 2.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid, page 3.