Who’s Securing Your Security Solution?

As highlighted in my recent blog, ‘The Brave New World of Network Security,’ cybersecurity is top of mind for IT leaders across the globe. The increased frequency of new security breaches is startling. The advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) era has brought new challenges that require a new approach to security.

The irony is not lost on anyone that sometimes it is the very security solutions that we put in place to protect us that can put us at risk.

For example, consider video surveillance. In the past, video surveillance systems were analog and typically resided on physically segregated networks that were ‘locked down’ from a security perspective. However, with the transition from analog to IP-based video surveillance, many security integrators now look to deploy video surveillance on converged IP networks.

The converged enterprise IT network now must support high-resolution video surveillance traffic alongside all of the other applications, such as voice, video collaboration, data, etc. As a result, network security requirements become more important as every physical security device on the IP network can now create another potential backdoor path for a hacker. For example, an unprotected surveillance camera could provide the backdoor entry into the entire enterprise network.

As customers continue to demand more secure IP video surveillance deployments, manufacturers must work together to build validated solutions that drive “Better Together” performance and a higher level of cybersecurity.

This week, Axis Communications, the global leader in network video, in partnership with Avaya, EMC, and Genetec announced the Secure Surveillance Platform, the security industry’s first validated surveillance solution that helps secure video from the device all the way to the storage. It offers a cyber-hardened solution that provides scalability and reliability for enhanced security management while helping to reduce the possibility of a cybersecurity breach.

This partnership ensures customers have the best solution to deliver surveillance at scale with the confidence they have come to expect from market leaders.

Avaya’s industry-leading Fabric Connect technology offers a secure network infrastructure that is optimized for video surveillance. Avaya’s Fabric Connect technology uses the IEEE standard Shortest Path Bridging (SPB). This innovative technology enables a dynamic, agile and resilient network that simplifies IP video surveillance deployments. It allows customers to deploy video surveillance system over a converged, secure, segmented network fabric.

This ensures video surveillance traffic is kept in its own secure zone and is completely isolated from other corporate IT traffic. Sometimes even security solutions need a little extra security.

To learn more about how this validated, end-to-end architecture can help secure your business, visit us at ISC West 2016 Booth 14051 or online.

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Let’s Talk about the Modern Business Ecosystem: Why We Need to Open Up

Forty years ago, technology vendors had it all figured out. They would differentiate themselves by continually bringing new proprietary solutions to market—a recipe for success in an age of a closed hardware dependent architecture. By exclusively building their own product portfolio under patent or trade-secret protection, companies could easily secure long-term revenue. This proprietary race fueled business for decades, and it still does today. Consider proprietary software solutions from Apple, which have licensing terms that limit usage to only Apple hardware (for example, Mac OS X).

A proprietary model offers several perks, yet not enough in today’s era of digital transformation. Intelligent, connected technologies like IoT, AI and machine learning have ushered enterprises into a new era of any-to-any communication, one filled with seemingly limitless collaboration and CX possibilities. As companies worked to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation, they came to realize that proprietary solutions stifled their efforts to grow and evolve, and they could no longer rely on one or multiple vendor or their life cycle timelines to develop the next-gen CX and/or vertical-specific services they needed.

A Big Change in a Small Amount of Time

Over the course of just a few short years, we saw a massive paradigm shift in which companies began seeking niche vendors to drive revenue and competitiveness. They turned to cloud-based businesses that were born in the digital era. They looked to startups that specialized in vertical-specific strategies. It wasn’t long before the average organization had created a unique, multi-vendor ecosystem in which various solutions were integrated to meet specific customer and vertical requirements. Case in point: the average business now leverages up to six different cloud solutions.

As every market filled with competing vendors, it seemed the most influential players were those that offered engaged, open ecosystems. These vendors allowed customers to freely modify original source code for virtually any purpose, versus retaining copyrights. With so many companies operating complex, multi-vendor ecosystems, open architecture that enabled collaborative app development became ideal for driving desired customer outcomes. We even see customers now acquire their own technology to accelerate the digitization of their business. You can’t do that in a proprietary and rigid architecture.

Multi-vendor Ecosystem vs. Open Ecosystem

This rise of niche vendors isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. In fact, Gartner predicts that startups will overtake leaders like Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft in markets like AI by 2019. If not properly supported, however, a multi-vendor environment can create infinitely more harm than good.

For starters, companies must secure their multi-vendor ecosystems. Research shows that the average organization’s network is accessed by 89 different vendors and partners per week, a number that should send chills down your spine from a security perspective. If that’s not shocking enough, one-third of companies admit they don’t know how many vendors access their systems at any given time. Despite this, over 70% believe their number of third-party vendors will increase by 2018.

In addition to this is the inherent challenge of seamlessly leveraging multiple different vendor solutions. You see, if these solutions aren’t properly integrated, they don’t represent a truly open ecosystem. To build targeted solutions that continually improve outcomes, companies must be able to seamlessly collect, track, share and use the data that exists across all vendor platforms and knowledge bases. None of these systems can be siloed from one another.

Consider the benefits of an open ecosystem within the transportation industry. Picture this scenario: administrators have taken notice that the 7:45 a.m. train fills up every morning to the point where passengers must wait for the next train. In a truly open ecosystem, management can leverage data collected across various integrated solutions (i.e., ticketing platforms, video surveillance systems, Wi-Fi/carrier grade services, mobile app systems, movement sensors, etc.) to identify the root cause of the issue and begin driving better customer outcomes. Data from the ticketing platform, for instance, may show that tickets purchased for 7:45 a.m. exceed the train’s maximum capacity by 15%.

At this point, management can leverage data in various ways to determine the best solution to the problem. For example, they may want to build a sophisticated level of automation to dynamically change the train schedule, monitoring it for continual improvement. They may choose to send automated SMS messages informing customers of anticipated congestion times and suggested alternatives for work travel while displaying updated information in real time on their digital signage systems. They could incentivize daily commuters by offering 15% off monthly passes if used for an earlier or later train time. Regardless of how the experience is enhanced, the entire technology ecosystem should be actively working together to make it happen. As I say, dealing with congestions on highways by constantly rebuilding the roads with more lanes is not exactly the smartest approach. Maximizing and optimizing its usage through smart traffic distribution and management can be proven to be way more effective while meeting the citizen’s experience.

The Future of the Customer Experience Relies on Open, Extensible Architecture

The more open a business ecosystem, the more seamlessly data can be leveraged to drive desired customer and citizen outcomes. The ability to track, collect and share data across dispersed systems is what allows companies to create custom solutions that target exact customer requirements. This open, extensible nature is vital within a next-generation platform.

Differentiating oneself is no longer as simple as rolling out a new proprietary solution. To drive desired outcomes and deliver true value, organizations must be open, agile, integrated and future proof. As the world continues transitioning to an open ecosystem, we become that much closer to eliminating a longstanding dependency on legacy hardware and hierarchal architecture.

So far, I’ve discussed four of five critical components that organizations must start looking at within a next-generation platform: next-gen IT, IoT, AI and open ecosystem. Up next, we’ll take a deep dive into the final and most significant of these: the customer (or citizens) experience. Stay tuned.

11 Ways Avaya Technology can Improve Veterans’ Healthcare

Studies continue to show that veterans’ healthcare needs are increasingly complex. The total number of veterans relying on Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) health care has substantially increased—even as the veteran population has been declining since 1980.

Many problems impacting veterans are similar to the general population’s challenges. Communication solutions are a key to solving many problems, according to “To Bind Up the Nation’s Wounds: Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization.” Staffs believe mobility and technology can help deliver better care. Recent surveys show:

  • 56% of physicians believe mobility could help expedite decision making
  • 39% say mobility would reduce time for administrative tasks
  • 36% believe it would increase collaboration among physicians
  • 26% reported it would increase time spent with patients
  • 40% of those surveyed said they could eliminate 11%-30% of office visits through mobile health technologies such as remote monitoring, email or text messaging

Given the right communications tools and mobile devices, government healthcare providers, are convinced that care would be improved. It’s no wonder. Approximately 80% of physicians use smartphones in hospital. But security is just as important as quality care and the patient experience. Consider these startling facts:

  • 100 million people were directly impacted by data breaches in 2015
  • 90% of healthcare organizations have had at least one data breach in the past two years
  • 5% of reported hacks in 2014 were in healthcare
  • Healthcare records are ten times more valuable than financial records on the black market

Communication technologies can securely enable higher quality care, reduce costs, and improve satisfaction for patients and employees alike, on- and off-site at Federal Government facilities managed by the VA and the Department of Defense. To ensure it can keep up with demand, the VA has expanded three key telehealth initiatives:

  • Clinical Video Telehealth platform—enables clinicians to use real-time interactive video conferencing to remotely assess, treat, and provide care to veterans
  • Home Telehealth platform—provides in-home care for patients with chronic conditions via mobile monitoring, messaging, and video technologies
  • Store and Forward Telehealth—streamlines communication, collaboration, and record-keeping among multiple facilities by allowing medical staff to share clinical information (e.g., x-rays, ultrasounds, or other test data) with a nationwide network of providers and specialists.

Enabling the VA to improve the patient “anywhere” experience requires technology that can support patient demands—from public and private clinics and hospitals to home-based care options. Battle-tested and proven automated Avaya solutions can:

  1. Improve the patient experience through a range of administrative tasks. Streamline the admissions process, facilitate faster patient discharge, remind patients of daily dosages, and make, track and remind patients of appointments from the hospital electronic health records.
  2. Maximize time that doctors and nurses spend with patients. Use mobile clinical collaboration solutions that keep providers, patients, and caregivers securely connected—anywhere, anytime, via smartphones and tablets. Action requests and alerts are handled quickly and seamlessly—patients receive the right care at the right time.
  3. Deliver quality experiences wherever patients are located—at home, in the field, on the road, or in a hospital—with the same quality of care. Mobile applications for intelligent wearable devices provide broader access to care and proactive patient monitoring.
  4. Enhance monitoring of patients through automated solutions. Use reminders and mobile applications to alert patients and care providers about scheduled therapy and medicine dosages.
  5. Beyond the hospital, keep patients connected to treatment and care providers by taking advantage of flexible, easy-to-use, mobile video and multimedia solutions. Crowded facilities employ mainstream technology to service non-critical cases on an outpatient basis, and remote facilities and wearable monitoring devices support consistent quality care.
  6. Ensure favorable outcomes with efficient patient admission and discharge processes, room preparation, post-op follow up, prescription management, test scheduling, and other workflows.
  7. Optimize productivity by communications-enabling hospital electronic health records with increased automation to reduce errors and facilitate collaboration.
  8. Support health information security with an Avaya flexible network that automatically segments traffic into distinct zones for guest Wi-Fi access, medical devices reporting, and patient records.
  9. Secure networks that have thousands of medical devices and public Wi-Fi. Avaya has an innovative capability for device isolation. Our Open Network Adapter securely locks down individual medical devices and easily adds new ones as required. The Adapter enables IT staff to quickly provision authorized access to employees, guests, and business partners on any device.
  10. Enable virtual solutions that are designed for public and private cloud implementation—you’ll gain effective management and upgrade paths designed for large-scale environments. IT professionals are able to determine which applications and services best support their needs through secure, hosted environments.
  11. Manage crises by automatically locating, connecting, and deploying extended care teams, including clinical associates, through a dynamic response team and notification system. With the capability to instantaneously expand and contract services, clinicians are available when and where they are needed most.

Healthcare agencies continue to seek innovative solutions that will advance the quality of veteran care And technology continues to make it possible to have a connected and secured experience at every stage of the patient care cycle—including healthcare anywhere that integrates mobile solutions, telemedicine, contact centers, and thousands of medical devices. Harnessing the right technology will help ensure that the best possible anywhere patient care happens now and for the next generation.

Benefits of Deploying the Avaya Surge™ Solution for Any IP Network

The Avaya Surge™ Solution is designed to work in an SDN Fx fabric environment. But many companies don’t have the luxury of deploying a full Ethernet fabric before they deploy their IoT-based applications. Avaya Surge release 1.0.1 (November 2016) added support for non-fabric IP networks.

The Surge IoT Controller works essentially the same way as in the SDN Fx fabric deployment, except the Open vSwitch on the Open Networking Adapter can’t automate network provisioning. Therefore, the VLANs must be configured manually on the network. The solution still provides centralized inventory, white list profiles, flow filtering, and a single pane-of-glass status for all Open Networking Adapter-enabled IoT devices. Without the SDN Fx fabric infrastructure, segmentation is limited to VLANs that aren’t stealthy and mobility requires manual network service set-up and tear-down. For environments where devices are static, the IP-only version of Avaya Surge may suffice until a full fabric can be deployed.

The risk profile of IoT doesn’t lend itself to “good enough” solutions for long. When a company’s network and data are compromised, less than best practices will be criticized in the media, in the court room, and, as in the Yahoo case, impact executive pay. Avaya Surge Release 2.0, scheduled for the second quarter of 2017, adds IPSec encryption and tunneling to an IP-only deployment. (IPSec will be available for SDN Fx deployments as well.)

A HyperSec gateway is deployed to coordinate the IPSec functionality with the Open Networking Adapters. The HyperSec gateway terminates the IPSec connection from the Adapters and directs the data to the correct VLAN to reach the target application server. Return data is encrypted and sent to the appropriate Adapter, which terminates and forwards the data to the IoT device. The addition of the HyperSec gateway adds encryption to the data on the network, while adding mobility to the solution. The Adapter is able to dynamically create the IPSec tunnel to the HyperSec gateway, reducing manual network management.

The HyperSec gateway is deployed as an active/standby pair. Each Adapter will be set up with primary/secondary tunnels. If the primary is not available, the Adapter will communicate over the secondary tunnel to the HyperSec gateway. The HyperSec cluster is headless. Configuration information is maintained in the Surge IoT Controller. This greatly simplifies scale-out clustering of the HyperSec gateway.

I will blog more about the HyperSec solution closer to availability. Keep in mind that you can get started with Avaya Surge on an IP network today and add IPSec when it becomes available. Also, it is not an all-or-nothing solution. Critical IoT components and services go through the HyperSec gateway and less critical and stationary workloads are deployed with IP and VLANs. Furthermore, SDN Fx fabric can be incrementally added to portions of the IoT portfolio to gain the value of hyper-segmentation, native stealth, and automatic elasticity.

Look at all of this through a different lens. I was talking to a friend, an intellectual property rights attorney, about the exposure that companies face from data breaches. It was one of those conversations where he wanted to know more about the technology and I was curious about his perspective as someone who makes money from a company’s problems. He was especially interested because legal firms are getting $500K to $2.5M for a simple breach defense. When looking at these numbers, I think that even if a company isn’t found culpable in a data breach, they could spend a lot of money in defense. So, it’s probably best to invest in the infrastructure to deploy IoT projects in a safe and sane manner.

In my recent blogs about the IoT, I’ve looked at how the IoT enables Digital Transformation and examined a business-first approach to IoT technology adoption. Then I looked at how Avaya’s SDN FxTM provides a foundation for a safe and sane IoT deployment. Finally, I introduced the Avaya Surge™ Solution, which extends network fabric to IoT devices and provides centralized device management, protection, and flow filtering.