Written by Tony Bardo
Tony Bardo is Assistant Vice President for Government Solutions at Hughes. He has over 25 years of network operation experience and specializes in helping government agencies establish high-speed satellite and broadband connections.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced federal and state employees to work from home, the disruption went far beyond work routines. It has also resulted in the need to support not only central agency offices, but thousands of satellite offices, with each employee’s home office essentially becoming a branch of government operations.
Now, almost two years later, as agencies look to embrace hybrid work as a more permanent part of their operations, managers must also find more permanent solutions to ensure employees always have a reliable connection. from their home office. And for network engineers and IT managers, that means seeing network resiliency from a different perspective.
Currently, agencies are working with established managed IT service contracts that are put in place to support a fully staffed office. This includes the management of wired installations with high doses of network fiber and dedicated access services, in addition to contracts for IT help desk functions to help workers resolve connectivity and data issues. material that occur during working hours.
But hybrid work has changed and will change the networking needs that are currently stipulated in contracts for managed service providers. Employees need reliable broadband access to agency resources and help desk support, even when working from home.
How network needs are changing
Consider the scenario of an outage of an employee’s Internet connection. In an office, that employee could call the help desk and resolve the issue fairly quickly. Today, without a Managed Service Provider (MSP) contract written for a hybrid work scenario, if that person’s internet connection goes down at home, the remote worker will have to call their commercial service provider to resolve the issue. problem. It also puts employees in the position to act as their own IT support.
At the very least, that employee is down for an hour or more trying to resolve their connection issues with the home network service provider. In the worst case, they could be offline for several days while waiting for replacement equipment to arrive.
Instead of getting Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) or Networx grade telecommunications service – with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that sets the response parameters for restoring service – employees are at the mercy of their own. consumer grade network service, which operates on their own schedules.
Fortunately, under the existing EIS contract, agencies can access funds to expand broadband to dispersed locations with infrastructure supporting residential homes. And by involving the EIS-prime provider – and their partners who already offer an MSP network to residences – agencies can begin to bridge the gap between home service and enterprise service with an appropriate SLA to ensure their provider responds. within a defined period of time to restore service.
Economies of scale for network modernization
As part of the larger IT and networking modernization, government leaders have already embarked on a path that focuses more on cost savings. For example, more and more agencies are using managed broadband networks, as opposed to fixed dedicated wired installations. These new contracts have made it possible to reduce the costs of managing the network between the branches as needed.
The good news is that broadband connections are much cheaper today than dedicated network connections and access connections that tied to original branch locations in the past. Service providers offer service plans that give agencies much more bandwidth for much lower prices, and the potential for agencies to save a lot of money. These savings can be used to extend network services to employee homes.
To make the most of the economies of scale of expanding broadband, I recommend including Managed Service Providers in the planning stages of redefining what a new MSP contract should look like. This can help leaders think through more strategic questions about the needs of the network, such as:
- How and when will employees return or work part of their week in the office?
- Where are employees most likely to work and what network needs will best suit an evolving hybrid model?
- How will the agency use this new work structure to change its real estate footprint?
- How will these changes impact the long-term vision of each agency’s mission?
While the answers to the questions are still evolving, it is important to recognize that planning for a more hybrid work structure will require a different approach to meet current and future network demands. Fortunately, the expertise to help plan for these changes is already available through the EIS contract and from the network and communications specialists participating in the EIS contract.
Find out how Hughes can help your agency consolidate network transportation services into one bill and end the management of various customer support contracts and channels.