How tech trends are impacting military networks
New technology trends bring with them excitement, but also complexity and confusion for agencies who already have enough on their plate to worry about.
Bring your own application (BYOA), virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and software-defined networking (SDN) may promise great things, but they are also exposing the network vulnerabilities of government organisations.
This is a matter of grave concern, and data breaches, failures, or slowdowns can be extraordinarily damaging, particularly when incredibly sensitive data is exposed.
For military IT professionals, the network is the first line of defence against these threats, but how do you ensure that it is well-equipped to address both current security issues and potentially more formidable ones lurking just around the corner?
The answer is surprisingly old-fashioned, in tech terms. If the array of increasingly complex acronyms is causing the problem, then going back to basics may be the solution. A combination of best practices—including automation, network monitoring and more—as well as network simplicity, is key to ensuring a happy, healthy government IT environment.
Let’s take a look at these best practices to see just how your IT environment can navigate the acronym minefield with your security and wits intact.
The importance of network monitoring in keeping your IT environment safe cannot be undersold. By offering a single-pane-of-glass view of users, devices, network devices, and traffic, and using log data to provide real-time event correlation, continuous network monitoring can help government IT professionals improve security and offer peace of mind.
Network monitoring can help achieve network stabilisation as the environment grows in complexity. Take the growing number of defence agencies that are making the move to a hybrid IT model (a mix of on-premises and cloud applications), for example. While the benefits of hybrid IT are often discussed (and include efficiency and scalability), it does represent increased complexity for IT professionals.
Monitoring tools can help address this complexity, providing vital information about which parts of an environment would benefit from moving off-premises, from both a cost and workflow standpoint. Once these applications are migrated, network monitoring can also monitor and verify their performance, and thus can both simplify the move to hybrid IT and help IT professionals make the most of its benefits.
A configuration management solution can be instrumental in the battle against increased complexity. By backing up configurations, IT professionals can roll back changes for fast recovery, monitor configurations, and automatically remediate anything noncompliant.
The alternative to a configuration management tool is, essentially, a headache. Manual configuration management doesn’t scale well, and most defence agencies face budget and staffing constraints that make it difficult to keep it up.
By automating processes for network management, agencies can free up resources to be used for other tasks, while automating compliance with patching and configuration tools means IT professionals can locate and protect against vulnerabilities without getting out of their seats. Most agencies aren’t blessed with a great deal of IT staff and budgets are usually on a scale of small-to-miniscule. This is what makes automation such a relevant solution.
Do you BYOA?
Defence agencies have struggled with adopting BYOA and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for some time now, and are all too aware of the security risks these approaches represent. Ignoring them entirely, however, is tricky: off-duty defence professionals need to be able to use internet-enabled devices with fewer restrictions, even if bandwidth isn’t cheap and availability is, at best, patchy.
As a result, military organisations need to have a real, considered discussion on how BYO schemes can be adopted, bringing in guidelines and tools to help with adoption and enforce restrictions, where needed. User device tracking can help to locate and eliminate rogue devices on the network, and guidelines enforced by IT will help users see that a line in the sand has been drawn regarding usage.
The government is no longer the snail-paced IT adopter it once was, yet there is still work to do to ensure that defence agencies aren’t severely impacted by these emerging tech trends. The key to realising this is preparation.
By remaining educated and understanding upcoming trends, tools, and strategies, government IT professionals can ensure they are well-equipped to adapt and thrive in an environment where the next complication is always just around the corner.
Joe Kim, EVP, Engineering & Global CTO, SolarWinds