Survey: Federal Health Agencies Hampered by Complex Networks

July 25, 2014 in News

About 81% of network managers at government agencies — including HHS and the Department of Veterans Affairs — said that the growing complexity of their IT networks is hindering their performance objectives, according to a new report by MeriTalk, Government Health IT reports.

Study Details

For the study, MeriTalk researchers surveyed 200 federal network managers, including those from:

  • Department of Defense;
  • HHS; and
  • VA (Government Health IT, 7/23).

The study was conducted in May 2014 and underwritten by network solutions provider Brocade (MeriTalk release, 7/14).

Study Findings

Overall, the study found that federal agencies with more complicated IT networks are three times more likely to experience frequent interferences compared with those that have simplified networks.

Further, 94% of respondents said that they have experienced lag time during the past 12 months that has impacted the mission of their agency (“The Federal Simplicity Report: Navigating Network Complexity,” July 2014).

Although federal network managers said they knew that reducing complexity is generally good for their agencies, the study found that:

68% said they believe their network complexity will continue to increase in the next three years; and

54% said their network complexity has increased in the past 12 months.

The respondents also identified the main factors that they felt contribute to increased network complexity, with:

  • 36% of respondents citing more network users;
  • 33% of respondents citing moving toward server virtualization;
  • 32% of respondents citing transitioning to cloud computing; and
  • 30% of respondents citing greater use of mobile devices (MeriTalk release, 7/14).

According to the survey, 68% of network managers believe network complexity hinders their ability to establish new technologies and services (Government Health IT, 7/23).

To help simplify the networks, respondents recommended:

  • Adding bandwidth;
  • Increasing redundancy;
  • Increasing virtual networking; and
  • Moving to open standards (MeriTalk release, 7/14).

Respondents estimated that their agency could save 18% of their IT budget by reducing network complexity by 50%.

Tony Celeste, director of U.S. civilian agencies at Brocade, said that the government’s antiquated health care network has not been able to keep pace with the changes in technology. He added, “The networks in many cases are out of date and burdened with proprietary protocols hindering the ability to leverage new, more innovative, cost effective technologies that are simpler” (Government Health IT, 7/23).

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