The Future Landscape for Communications

July 11, 2012
By Rita Boland

Mobility is the major game-changing trend over the course of the next five years, but securing it will pose a range of challenges. Members of the industry panel today at TechNet Land Forces South in Tampa, Florida, brought out their crystal balls to forecast the communications landscape five years from now and how the defense industry can prepare for the upcoming changes.

Prem Iyer, vice president, North America Channel Sales, RedSeal Networks Incorporated, explained that there is no panacea solution to mobile security, and he talked about problems with applications security. Mobile devices also bring in another level of risk less common with large desktops or other traditional computing equipment-the ease with which mobile tools can be lost or stolen. Iyer stated that security has always been a challenge in the world of mobility, an issue that takes on increased meaning for warfighters. "Operations will always trump security," he said. Security must become an enabler to use with developers integrating it into systems from the beginning, not adding it on at the end.

Patrick Finn, senior vice president, U.S. Federal Operations, Cisco Systems Incorporated, stated that part of the problem with the future is that it will involve devices not yet conceived. From an infrastructure perspective he foresees the collapsing of infrastructure, collaboration, computers and security. A concern for Finn is the time necessary to implement cybersecurity problems. Iyer said in the future there must be continuous monitoring of networks to protect them. Security can no longer be reactive defense, it must be proactive to prevent an unknown, zero-day threat from taking effect.

William Rowan, vice president for the Defense Department business at VMWare Incorporated, sees virtualization as a major trend of the future. He stated that at any given time there are more virtual machines moving data across networks than aircraft in the air. "Virtualization will continue to grow even faster than today," Rowan said.

Brig. Gen. Mike Lee, USAF (Ret.), partner, National Security, Blue Canopy, explained that intelligence and communications are inextricably linked. His view for the future includes a world where information sharing is the imperative; trends move toward intelligence systems integration as a way to mitigate stress on the military's communications infrastructure; intelligence data-handling systems proliferate; and large volumes of intelligence information are increasingly pushed to the forward edge. He also predicted more mixing of levels of classified information, mandating multilevel security with robust access control.

The panel's moderator, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, USA (Ret.), ended the discussion with words of wisdom for everyone developing future systems: listen to the soldiers.

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