Every 18 or so months, according to Moore’s Law, computer processing speed doubles. Moore's Law implies that computers and computing power all become smaller, faster, and cheaper with time, as transistors on integrated circuits become more efficient. In the 50 years since George Moore postulated his theory, technology has advanced at a blistering pace—far faster than he even predicted.
For civilian and defense agencies, keeping up is daunting. When procuring communications networking technologies and services, agencies have traditionally modernized every 5 years to stretch the capabilities of their legacy systems. Yet this has left them vulnerable to using slow, stove piped solutions and potentially behind the curve in transitioning to the cloud, scaling bandwidth to meet growing demand and securing edge devices.
How then, can agencies update their networking and communications capabilities, and prevent legacy technologies from posing a threat to mission success?
The answer is “future proofing,” an increasingly popular approach that involves building and maintaining networks so that they can readily adopt emerging technologies and integrate with a variety of software and tools. Future proofing also focuses on achieving outcomes and expectations, such as best value and greater efficiency, rather than on meeting technical hardware specs or lowest cost bid requirements. In this way, solutions can grow and adapt as missions evolve and innovations arise.
There are five goals to target when future proofing the network.
Make your network:
Flexible — Networks must connect to disparate, existing systems and also adopt new technologies. This is especially important for emergency response and defense networks that need to communicate and coordinate with other agencies for critical missions. Having a flexible network means being able to integrate and operate across these multiple systems and transport types–securely and easily.
Scalable — Networks must also adapt to user needs that flex up and down, for example to support surge capabilities when necessary. Commercial satellite communication (SATCOM) networks can ramp up capacity and coverage based on mission requirements. They also can support multi-transport and multi-band capabilities–which will be essential in the 5G networking environment.
Modular — Gone are the days when one vendor would build proprietary tools and technologies that only it could manage and maintain. Today, networks should take advantage of proven commercial off the shelf (COTS) products, enabling agencies to add new components and advanced capabilities when feasible.
Agile — An agile network can respond to changes in real-time—like an uptick in traffic or an influx of new devices—as they happen while remaining flexible, secure and easy to manage. When agile networks connect warfighters, vehicles and nodes across theaters, transport types and providers, they do so without interruption, mitigating both man-made and natural threats. The network’s built-in intelligence keeps communications up, no matter what goes down. That agility creates greater resilience and performance.
Global — Agencies need to be able to rely on global partnerships and solutions, so they can operate anywhere in the world. They also need to be able to tap into multiple transports, for example switching between both geostationary, medium and low earth orbit satellites, to meet user needs, especially if those users are warfighters on-the-move.
By hitting these goals, civilian and defense agencies can build robust and resilient networks to serve their needs for years to come, no matter how much or how rapidly technologies—and their own missions—may change.