Transforming Public Infrastructure? The Private Sector Can Help

A deluge of web based consumer applications like Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, Amazon and other industry disrupting technologies raise the question, how and when will technology transform our public institutions? Connecticut schools, town halls, public libraries, public higher education institutions and civic organizations have used computers and electronic databases for years but institutional transformation has lagged compared to the private sector.  Managed service providers (MSP) like Digital BackOffice can help manage and secure public sector infrastructure and leverage the state-wide fiber optic network provided by the Connecticut Education Network (CEN).

As the State of Connecticut wrestles with budget deficits and ponders “regionalism”, tech infrastructure and technology based services are critical to transforming the delivery of education and public services locally, regionally and statewide. Connecticut has a unique asset in the Connecticut Education Network (also known as the Nutmeg Network), a high-speed fiber optic network that connects every school district and almost 100 municipal buildings at a minimum handoff of 1 Gigabit.  Integrating the local infrastructure (wired and wireless) with CEN and enterprise applications is fraught with questions and challenges.

It has become increasingly difficult to hire in-house staff with the requisite technology skills that include desktop support, budget planning, network security, application support, server migration planning and more.   MSP’s are bound by a contractual, service-level agreement that states the performance and quality metrics of their relationship with the customer.   Service contracts minimize the risk of maintaining and securing reliable infrastructure for stakeholders.  MSP’s may own and lease all or some portion of the network infrastructure to the customer as an operating expense line item, including software, hardware, technical support, maintenance, and tech refresh.  MSP’s add value with experienced and specialized employees, audited process controls, network help desk facilities and data centers to support the contracted end user service level guarantee. Digital BackOffice managed services include 24×7 monitoring, network performance reporting and the ability to secure the network infrastructure, protect authorized users and the privacy of personal data.  Bona fide service provider integrity may be verified with customer references, visits to vendor NOC’s and AICPA Service Control Reports   https://www.aicpa.org/InterestAreas/FRC/AssuranceAdvisoryServices/Pages/SORHome.aspx

The CEN infrastructure offers many benefits over public internet connections including ease of administration, better performance and most importantly the ability to enforce security policies.

CEN provides access to the public internet but it has the capacity to connect multiple domains, i.e., towns, schools, police departments, Councils of Government, etc., and share secure access to applications, databases and personal data.  CEN provides its Connecticut customers’ high bandwidth possibilities, an in-state help desk, engineering support, a CIO and a governance body to provide direction and guidelines aligned with industry standards as well as state and federal statutes. Protecting users from hacking, data theft, ransomware, identity theft and inappropriate sites now requires a designated security officer (CSO), technical skills to manage threats and investments in the devices and tools necessary to secure a network.  Most public institutions do not have the management structure or IT staff to support a CIO or CSO position and often rely on third party vendors or equipment manufacturer help desks.  MSP’s can secure the network perimeter, manage endpoint devices, prevent ransomware, cyber-attacks, data loss and provide technical support to the CSO.

The local wired and wireless network infrastructure required to connect public buildings to locally hosted or cloud hosted applications is a complex mix of hardware and software components. MSP’s and CEN can help but public sector procurement practices need to be aligned with the industry transition to cloud and managed services.  Low-bid purchasing of discrete components from multiple manufacturers, is increasingly a recipe for network failure and cyber breaches.  See unified infrastructure https://www.digitalbackoffice.com/unified-infrastructure/

For additional information about Digital BackOffice

Contact Dale Bruckhart, V.P. Public Sector Marketing, 203-874-5545 Ext. 118 or by email at daleb@digitalbackoffice.com

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