Delivering a Communications Whole That Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
April 16, 2015
In January 2015, Forbes summarized “The Big Data Breaches of 2014” that occurred in the commercial world affecting companies from Albertsons to Sony. Around the same time, Dr. J. Michael Gilmore, Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) at the Pentagon, issued a warning in his 2014 annual report: “Cyber adversaries have become as serious a threat to U.S. military forces as the air, land, sea and undersea threats represented in operational testing for decades.”
The same day that President Obama was delivering a speech in January 2015 at the Department of Homeland Security’s “National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center,” hackers loyal to Islamic State briefly hijacked the Twitter and YouTube accounts belonging to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).
Cyber security in today’s hyper-connected world is as big a problem on the commercial front as it is for the government and military. In fact, as the demand for networking and communications resources continues to rise in both the private and public sector – three critical success factors (CSFs) stand out: flexibility, reliability, and security. In this post, we look into each one of these CSFs as they pertain to the deployment of a satellite communications network.
Reliability and security in communications networks are closely intertwined in that a network is only as reliable as it is secure and vice versa. The communications network infrastructure is made up of a number of “talking” parts that span the seven-layer ISO-OSI network architecture. There is no single company with expertise in manufacturing and delivering the best product/service/solution set across all of these seven interconnected layers. Delivering a true end-to-end communications solution requires not only carrier networks, but also a systems integrator with the knowledge and relationships to aggregate and integrate the required parts from providers of the various layers.
Since customer requirements vary in nuanced ways, the ability to identify and assemble the optimal solution to the communications puzzle in the expected time frame is what differentiates the winner. This is where our philosophy comes into play: “the communications whole is greater than the sum of its partners’ parts.”
For our core satellite network components, we maintain space segment globally on various operators’ satellites. We rely on iDirect infrastructure to provide a secure and reliable satellite network that can be deployed in various topologies, such as STAR (hub and spoke), mesh, hybrid, and point-to-point (SCPC). These configurations support multiple satellites and frequencies including C-, Ku-, Ka-, and X-bands.
In addition to iDirect’s comprehensive level of network security, including built-in 256-bit AES encryption and TRANSEC, plus FIPS 140-2 and IA STIG compliance, our upcoming FISMA-compliant Security Operations Center (SOC) interface into the iDirect network will ensure Top Secret compliance as a baseline level of security for all of our customers. At the infrastructure layer, we use MAC I and II compliant teleports, follow strict access control processes, and maintain rigorous SOP in line with FCL standards.
As far as flexibility goes, we offer customers significant leeway in defining their communications network parameters, such as uplink/downlink speeds, satellite frequency band options, number of remote sites to be connected, CIR needs, maximum number of simultaneous users, terrestrial links requirements, TCP acceleration, VPN requirements, contention ratio, security considerations, co-location of customer hardware, and BYOD options, including customers wanting to integrate use of their own satellite terminals.
More importantly, our flexibility is further defined by our approach to engineering solutions. We do not offer cookie-cutter solutions and accommodate any communications requirements request to deliver a tailored solution that precisely meets our customer’s needs. We always include unlimited data usage as part of our communications solution, irrespective of the network/circuit involved. Also, our solutions customization spans the spectrum from short-term, occasional use on contended networks to long-term, frequent use on dedicated networks. Most significantly, we excel at quick turnarounds, especially due to our experience with military clients that are often confronted by rapid response situations.
From a solutions delivery standpoint, our process removes the burden of dealing with multiple vendors, allowing customers to focus instead on their applications and missions. We have developed strong relationships with various network partners to integrate the various required “parts” – hub equipment, space segment, antenna systems, baseband systems, TCP acceleration software, teleports/hosting hubs, and terrestrial links – into customer solutions. So we work with these partners as required to engineer the optimal communications “whole” for a customer – i.e. a complete end-to-end solution. The design, engineering and implementation of an end-to-end solution is achieved through our phased process that includes defining requirements, analyzing and proposing an initial design, conducting site survey(s), refining the solution as required based on outcome of prior steps, ordering and installing equipment, configuring service, and providing maintenance and customer support.
In summary, we have highlighted three critical success factors—flexibility, reliability, and security—that are key to the successful deployment of a complete communications network solution. More significantly, in delivering a communications whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, we have developed a flexible business model to complement the existing reliability and security features of our partners’ communications networks. Finally, and most critical to the security element, we are in the process of enhancing a key security access level in our networks that will go a long way to protect against the cyber security threats that this post emphasized upfront.
To learn more about how we integrate our “partners parts” and execute our phased process to deliver a “communications whole,” we encourage you to query/comment on this post or complete the form below to receive a more detailed white paper on this topic from us.