Dark Horse Networking – NG ESInet Critical Infrastructure
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NG 911 is here, but what about the critical infrastructure to support it?
While communications capabilities have drastically expanded over the past several years, collaboration and data sharing with our peers have now become a part of our daily lives. This has exposed each of us to potential security risks that must be managed, while not constricting our ability to communicate. While one may think it is the endpoint or UC client responsibility, in actuality it is the underlying network that is of concern and where innovation begins.
Ed Kohler, a Distinguished Engineer at Avaya, is a prolific writer of technical philosophic and scientific subjects and has a great passion to emphasize the philosophy and evolution of those topics. I kid Ed that he is one of those guys that needs to walk around with a translator so that people from THIS planet, like myself, can understand just what the hell he is talking about, and if you find the smartest person that you know, and you introduce them to Ed, they will come back to you and say, “Hey, that Ed guy is pretty smart!”
I have had the pleasure of interviewing Ed several times on APN, most recently at INTEROP 2013 in Las Vegas, where Avaya provided the backbone architecture for the INTEROP network using our latest Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) technology. You can view and download the APN content from that event here .
This past week, Ed talked about ‘Dark Horse’ Networking – Private Networks for the control of Data in his blog at [EdKohler.WordPress.com] where he talks about next generation virtualization demands for critical infrastructure and public safety. If you have seen the movie Scanners, and you have no fear of your head exploding, go ahead and read Ed’s blog. If you do have a bit of trepidation, I’ll do you a favor, and summarize it here.
Next Generation Emergency Services IP Networks (ESI nets) are an integral part of making NG 911 functional at the municipal level. FirstNet, the First Responder Emergency Services Network, will connect to the ESInet and extend conductivity to first responders in route to the scene. At some point in the near future, the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) will not only attach callers in need of help to the ESInet, but intelligent endpoints will be able to contribute data to the communications path that has been established. Information that can be provided from the origination point can be extremely valuable not only to the dispatcher or call taker, but to the responding entity and individual.
Video from a bank’s cameras during a robbery in progress is a good example of real time relevant data that could easily be made available to agencies. While that information can certainly be of interest to the call taker or dispatcher (the presence of an armed individual wearing a ski mask for example) it is of equal value, if not more, to the SWAT team that has responded and is establishing a perimeter.
This poses an incredibly unique, and complex, network infrastructure conundrum, as well as a security concern. While we need to connect two very disparate endpoints in very separate and distinct network and security domains, we need to maintain a level of security and protection at both ends of the network.
This is where Shortest Path Bridging comes to the rescue. A simple explanation of the SPB protocol is a network that allows configuration of the endpoint elements, and the network autonomously reconfigures itself to allow that level of communication. With those endpoints now in a very specific community of interest where only very specific traffic is expected from very specific endpoints, the security algorithms and processes can be much more optimized and flag any event that does not match a very discreet monitoring profile. Anomalies to those patterns are easily flagged for remediation and investigation. Coupling this logic with a “window of opportunity” that only is open when another specific event has occurred (the panic button was activated) further locks down communications. This new “virtual security perimeter” is not only valid within an enterprise environment, but between secure enterprise environments you to the fact that applications are no longer limited by Layer 2 scalability.
The successful deployment of a NG 911 ESInet is going to require more than just a basic level of network knowledge. Complexities insecurity models and inter-conductivity between agencies and their resources will be paramount to making collaboration and unification of public safety possible. “Dark Horse Networking” is sure to be a skill set requirements in the future, and for those looking for a specialized area of certification for a future career, this may be a viable option.
Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN . There you will find additional Podcasts from Industry Events such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN Staff.
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Until next week. . . dial carefully.
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