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Driving the defense innovation agenda securely

Dec. 23, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By MARK NEUSTADT   |   Comments
Mark Neustadt is director of Department of Defense sales for Citrix.
Mark Neustadt is director of Department of Defense sales for Citrix. (File)
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Public sector agencies, and in particular defense agencies, have steadily increased efforts to modernize IT infrastructure for the past several years. This, coupled with the fact that defense agencies are tasked with enhancing collaboration while constantly adjusting to protect our systems from evolving attacks, adds a new level of complexity to the modernization effort.

Teri Takai, chief information officer for the Defense Department, said “information is our greatest strategic asset.” That said, without the proper tools and solutions that enable access to that information, our strategic asset is rendered ineffective. It is critical that while defense sector IT leaders strive to meet the mandates that are pushing agencies to undergo massive technology transformations, they also concurrently consider the new security challenges that these changes bring.

This drive to innovate while not only maintaining but enhancing security against growing threats may seem like a big challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one. Defense sector IT leaders and analysts are looking to new, groundbreaking solutions to ensure the safety of data, mobile devices, and applications. Recently, they are looking to solutions that not only enable desktop virtualization and information collaboration across agencies but also include robust features such as:

■Simplified delivery of desktops using a single solution and single image to deploy, update, backup, recover, secure, and control enterprise laptops.

■The ability for users to work from anywhere — while IT remains in centralized control.

■The ability to secure and backup data through encryption with the required standards.

■Flexible workspaces that reliably revert back to a pristine state.

■Ability to isolate desktops for high-security needs.

While the defense sector still has great room to grow to fully realize the benefits of technology such as virtualized desktops and collaborative work environments, there are success stories today. For example, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) robust, Multi Level Security (MLS) workstation program is one of these. To overcome challenges associated with the 9/11 commission’s mandate to collaborate security information between organizations and intelligence agencies while keeping information feeds from other networks separate, AFRL developed SecureView. The program tied all of the necessary information networks securely into one computer and prevented data exfiltration, deployed with minimal impact to the host agency, and was capable of being provisioned well below the required four-hour threshold.

It is clear that the future of defense agencies is to continually modernize infrastructures to support the next generation of operations. That said, it is critical that deploying new and innovative technologies securely is a top priority for every implementation, utilizing the most comprehensive solutions to protect our nation’s most important data. In the coming years, we will see the use of technology in the defense sector grow to create virtual desktop environments to meet federal mandates, enable mobile working, manage devices, and much more.

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