NETSCOUT Prevents State Government Network Visibility Gaps from Blindsiding Citizens

Seeing is believing: How visibility can transform tech debt and legacy IT.

A Government Building

In the sphere of information technology (IT), visibility is not just about seeing what’s happening on your network: it’s about understanding it. Troubleshooting is a different beast than it was years ago. Complex, dynamic environments require insight. And lots of it. As one manager of network administration so eloquently put it, “We need to be able to see as much as we can!” 

Like businesses, state governments rely on intricate IT environments to deliver essential services to stakeholders—in their case, state employees and citizens. We’ve all heard the stories in which network performance seemed fine although latent issues had been secretly forming for weeks due to undetected visibility gaps—aka blind spots. Without end-through-end visibility to evaluate performance, these gaps can compromise a state’s most meticulously mapped digital transformation initiatives, sometimes in unexpected ways.

IT Spending Trends, Legacy Systems, and Tech Debt

Despite uncertain economic conditions, the state and local government technology market forecast is resilient and continues to grow. According to research by the Center for Digital Government, 56 percent of state and federal IT leaders will upgrade their technology solutions by 2025, and 66 percent say they are already seeing increasing constituent expectations for service reliability.

Many statewide IT agencies are actively executing digital transformation initiatives, such as migrating from on-premises data centers to the cloud, to improve digital services for citizens and enhance user experiences. As a result, IT agencies potentially face a multitier challenge of addressing existing tech debt, such as in legacy systems and suboptimal software, while simultaneously attempting to modernize their IT landscapes. Left unchecked, tech debt can lead to visibility gaps, particularly in the code base of applications or codependent microservices architecture, where developers may struggle to fully understand the implications of domain changes or rushed cloud migrations.

Comprehensive visibility can help state IT teams not only eliminate existing visibility gaps so they can identify application interdependencies but also reduce the accumulation of new tech debt. This can lead to more resilient and easier-to-maintain applications in the long run.

High-Quality User Experiences Stuck in a Tangled Mess of Dependencies

For complex IT estates, achieving high operational efficiency with network visibility is a demanding, ongoing process. In recent years, government IT agencies across the United States have made significant strides in digitalizing services and resources for residents. Online bill payment systems, user-friendly online portals for unemployment processing, contact centers powered by omnichannel unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) platforms, and digital driver’s license renewal services are a few examples.

Sometimes, however, good intentions, without proper governance, can yield unintended consequences.

You may have heard about a state’s Department of Public Safety experiencing a significant outage to its driver’s license system after trying to update it over Labor Day weekend. Additionally, you might have seen recent news stories about a “database corruption” in a midwestern state’s Optical Transport Network that prevented callers in much of the state from talking to 911 dispatchers for about an hour at various 911 dispatch centers.

Whenever a network component relies on other protocols to operate and communicate effectively, or an application relies on other apps to function, any disruption or failure in the latter can cascade and affect the former. Modern applications, in fact, often have dozens or hundreds of dependencies, each with its own transitive dependencies. Monitoring that complexity and identifying visibility gaps is crucial to maintaining the reliability and availability of digital services that people rely on.

“We Need to Be Able to See As Much As We Can!” 

As state IT networks evolve to accommodate new digital platforms and additional users, full visibility into the entire network, from data centers and the cloud to end-user devices, is becoming more challenging. Visibility gaps can easily go undetected, creating vulnerabilities that can manifest as degradations, micro-outages that forebode more severe complete outages, or security threats. However, these problems may become undeniably apparent as network and application ecosystems expand.

It’s essential for state IT agencies to constantly assess and address blind spots to ensure network integrity and application performance. One of the most respected aspects of NETSCOUT’s nGenius Enterprise Performance Management is the use of monitored packet data for providing comprehensive, clear, and deeply granular insights. The nGeniusONE solution, the foundation of nGenius Enterprise Performance Management, overcomes visibility gaps by leveraging InfiniStreamNG appliances in physical parts of the network for north-south traffic monitoring and vSTREAM virtual appliances for east-west monitoring in private data centers, colocation sites, cloud, and other virtualized environments. In fact, nGeniusONE is renowned for its single-pane-of-glass approach to troubleshooting, with immediately actionable network-centric and application-centric analytics. This makes for highly collaborative remediation of visibility gaps and a reliable way for a wide range of IT disciplines to not only see as much as they can but to also understand it.

Read the case study to see how NETSCOUT helped a network administrator in one large U.S. state remove visibility gaps across its data center and cloud environments.