8 Things you need to know to deliver a national defense CIS

February 25, 2020

Communications are critical for national defense. A compliant Communications and Information System (CIS) is required to deliver secure, instant communications.

National defense, homeland security and safety as well as Armies commandment tasked with choosing a Communications and Information System (CIS) are in an increasingly challenging position. Before they can even start thinking about selecting a solution they need to ensure vendors are compliant and have the necessary government certifications. Whether it’s NIST, JITC, TAA in the U.S., or the European Committee for Standardization such as Common Criteria and BSI, defense contracts are not just handed out like candy. In addition to a vendor meeting specific certifications, solutions, products and team or armed forces must also meet stringent criteria.

Once all the compliancy tick boxes are checked, you need to take a look at what’s really keeping decision-makers up at night. Based on our research, we’ve come up with the following eight elements you will need to get in the running as a vendor for a national defense CIS.

Military personnel in data center for blog post

1. Certainly, at the top of the list is a high availability solution, with performance anytime, anywhere. Carrier-class availability must ensure mission critical communications are not affected by outages. Defense communications solutions need to provide 99.999 percent operability, with a maximum downtime of just a few minutes per year. Redundancy and network availability are non-negotiable.

2. Equally important is security. End-to-end multi-layer security is required to provide protection at all levels of the network. Integrated management tools must allow security supervision across all elements. In addition, mobile devices are transforming the communications landscape and heightening the need for security as cyber attackers exploit the increasing volumes of code contained in every point of access. Defense-grade encryption, data privacy and secure communication environments require a secure, available infrastructure that is efficient and easy to manage.

3. Optimal network performance demands a simplified management solution, from a single and easy to use platform. Network managers and signal teams need a solution that lets them configure and troubleshoot devices, with real-time monitoring and reporting of mission-critical, network-based application and network resources. With real-time analytics from the field or remote forces, administrative information, security equipment status, materials and vehicles information, providing them with important data to support rapid, tactical and strategic decisions.

4. Secure information sharing and collaboration across disparate networks that is easy from any device, anytime, anywhere, and in real-time can help decisions get made quickly. And in the world of Defense, seconds make a difference and can enhance emergency response team effectiveness.

5. With the Internet of Things (IoT), defense staff can receive information from security equipment, materials and vehicles, concerning their safety, health and logistic maintenance needs. Information can include alerts, maintenance updates, malfunction or attacks alarms. A Defense CIS must ensure automated and secured management for these devices and sensors. IoT containment that separates the network into distinct containers can help ensure privacy and secure operations.

6. Decision-makers must consider the environmental requirements for any solution that is deployed. Ruggedized equipment must endure harsh conditions and enable continued communications, especially for field teams or specific defense machines such as armored vehicles, submarines, planes or warships. In addition, core solutions and end devices must be able to withstand high temperatures or humidity variations and be shock resistant (+ EMI constraints, DNV marine compliance, MIL-STD compliance, SDIP levels). 

7. What about new technologies like mobility and collaboration? Can the defense industry benefit of them? Yes, but they need to be adapted to those particular requirements They should offer secured, encrypted communications over a private network and resists in harsh conditions. For example, adapted vehicles routers, ruggedized, shock and high temperatures-resistant, as well as secured collaboration tools protecting mission-critical data transfers and communications. They can make a great difference for mobile teams in vehicles, shelters or mobile command posts, and can be useful as well during joint OPS by allowing automatic voice translations, if they are adapted for their needs and uses.

8. And lastly, a solution that makes it into consideration must be open to rapid evolution and integration with minimal IT involvement. Open standards-based operating systems make it simple to integrate new equipment into the network, run new applications and ensure scalability, to meet evolving needs. The solution must interconnect with partner applications running on other platforms and enable organizations to adapt to heterogeneous environments.

The challenge for any new network is making sure all the disparate pieces work together efficiently and securely. Key to success is a partner that can integrate the best, certified, mix of technologies and applications to deliver a solution tailored specifically to meet national defense needs. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has been delivering certified, secured government solutions to help I.C.T. defense teams to address communication needs.

Daniel Mailliard

Business Developer for Communications and Networks, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

Daniel started working in I.C.T at ITT (before it was part of Alcatel) as network specialist on IBM mainframes, and then VM system specialist. He went on to include LAN and WAN technologies in his expertise to enhance network solutions in the mainframes world.

He then joined the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Defense team as Business Developer for Communications and Networks, and he’s been sharing his experience across other vertical markets ever since.

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