Next-Generation Networks For Government

It’s time to reconsider the cloud


With the 'Cloud First' initiative underway in Washington and calls for federal agencies to make cybersecurity risk management a priority, nearly 30% of agencies are currently migrating applications to the cloud. In fact, the State Department announced last November that cloud will be a part of its department-wide redesign.

Even as this push gathers force, agencies are facing data security concerns. Federal entities have traditionally managed their data under a centralized approach of fixed data centers and backup sites. Operations today, however, are increasingly decentralized, requiring connectivity around the world. For example, armed forces serving in the field need fast, reliable communications but cannot risk data theft.

Latency is the result of today’s centralized approach to data management – and that’s a major drawback. The farther a user is from the data center, the longer it takes to retrieve and return information. Recent efforts to consolidate data centers may further increase latency and negatively impact user performance. In a field situation, even two seconds of latency can be dangerous. The best cloud storage option for organizations with sensitive data, therefore, would make it possible to store data in a decentralized fashion among different nodes while avoiding the co-mingling of data and lack of data location control typified by public cloud offerings.

There remains, however, the inescapable issue of 'leaky' internet lines. Any data that passes across these lines, whether public or private, requires a public address header for routing encrypted packets to the proper network. This provides ample opportunity for surreptitious targeting and decryption of sensitive data. This includes cloud storage on public and private networks. Clearly, there is a need to rethink data transmission and storage options.

The Challenge of Regulations

In addition to the tricky traversing of security concerns, the international regulatory system can be overwhelmingly complicated. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) typifies the kind of jurisdictional limitations agencies must observe. In addition, federal agencies have strict rules and regulations designed to protect data and prevent co-mingling of top-secret and less-classified information within servers. This translates into physical server separation within government data centers, and therefore an inability to take full advantage of server consolidation using virtualization that the commercial world has embraced. Transitioning government data to the cloud is challenging for this reason.

A Cloud Above the Clouds

What if, however, there were a cloud storage solution on which virtual applications, data, and devices could securely co-reside and could be accessed according to the security clearance of the users? Any attempts to access data or applications held in other virtual machines would be thwarted by the strict enforcement of the security policies, and audit data would be available to detail any attempted attacks within the system. This secure separation and virtualization platform would be as secure as having multiple physical systems – and without the physical overhead or cost.

Picture sharing information across the globe in less than a second using such a cloud storage solution. This is a solution where information is secure, safely traveling above and beyond the internet and all leased lines. This is a new paradigm for data transport and storage – and it is a real possibility today.

Storage based in space offers these opportunities. New technologies have been devised that can provide an independent network of satellites for government customers to experience secure storage and provisioning of sensitive data across the globe. By sending data to satellites that are accessible from anywhere on earth via ultra-secure, dedicated terminals, federal agencies will overcome latency, interruption, and exposure to surreptitious elements or unintended network jurisdictions.

Choose Your Cloud

Government entities are following a mandate to migrate to the cloud. That is where the future of data management lies. However, with ongoing security concerns and jurisdictional snafus, a safer and more reliable alternative would be welcome. Federal agencies want the benefits of cloud computing while maintaining utmost data security, low latency, and high availability. Now, they have more than one type of 'cloud' to choose from. It’s time to consider the possibilities of space-based storage to comply with federal requirements and keep sensitive data secure.


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