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Connectivity is Key: Three Takeaways from Cisco Live 2018

Josh Finke, Iron Bow Technologies

July 5, 2018  |  Collaboration  •  Cyber Security  •  Managed Services

Emerging technologies are redefining what’s possible for government. Not just the technologies themselves, but also their interconnected capabilities and the analytics they can provide.

Collaboration and connectedness emerged as the central themes during this year’s annual Cisco Live in Orlando. Attendees got a look into how connected tech can enable organizations, including federal agencies, to amplify the impact of both emerging and established IT and better accomplish missions.

What are some of the connections that will advance your organization and generate new insights? Connected, intelligent automation, security and collaboration tools—all major focuses from the event—can change how agencies serve citizens and their workforce.

Automation in the Network DNA

Traditionally, network engineers spent significant time making manual updates to routers and switches. The role was essential and complicated, but often inefficient and prone to inefficiency that led to potential downtime and frustrations for network users. Today, automating system changes and updates across the entire network allows IT workers to focus on more important tasks.

Not only is automation more efficient, but it’s also more intelligent. With an API, applications speak directly to the network, so features and configurations serve the network’s purpose. Every network device is connected with built in security, ensuring it provides the greatest value to an organization’s mission. The growing possibilities of the intuitive network were a significant focus at this year’s Cisco Live, giving basis to their theme of Imagine the Intuitive.

Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (DNA) provides centralized, automated control of the entire network so you have complete visibility and the ability to make many changes to the network from a single touch point.

Beyond the ease of functionality, intent-based networking uses analytics to constantly learn and adapt to an agency’s changing needs and conditions. After configuring policies for both physical and virtual infrastructure, the architecture captures, interprets and translates the policies across the network. DNA then continuously monitors for validation and verification of intent, while also recommending corrective action if something goes astray.

All of this connectivity makes agency systems more agile and ready to adjust to their ever-evolving needs.

Cyber Security: Integrated and Intelligent

The cyber security threat landscape widens every day, with attacks coming in across the globe. This results in more vulnerabilities across government and industry alike. In our new environment, trying to address risks with individual point solutions is like blocking the entire ocean with sandbags. Since adding point solutions such as firewalls on top of routers and switches is no longer sufficient, agencies are looking for new approaches to address the threat landscape with security built into the entire infrastructure.

A holistic, built-in approach enables advanced analytics to proactively identify, block and remediate serious security incidents. Previously, threats could go under the radar as bad actors found ways to hide behind encryption. Analysts were bogged down wading through potential problems before identifying those that required action. Security analytics can solve these challenges.

Cisco invented and now employs Encrypted Traffic Analytics (ETA), which is built into its DNA solution, to more accurately and effectively identify potential concerns. ETA allows the network to identify malware even across encrypted traffic streams. Cisco deployed ETA on the public wireless network at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year. ETA detected more than 32,000 individual security events at GSMA. But by using cloud-based analytics and machine learning, Cisco reduced that number to only 350 significant incidents. As a result, an analyst didn’t have to comb through tens of thousands of potential issues to find the real ones.

Collaboration Made Easier

The federal government is a complex enterprise. With 430 departments, agencies and sub-agencies across the globe, communication can be difficult for staff across agencies, using many types of devices, tools and methods to communicate.

Collaboration tools on those devices—whether desktops and laptops or mobile devices running iOS or Android—must interact with each other seamlessly as agencies need to collaborate effectively. When a manager in D.C. is looking to coordinate with workers and contractors in multiple locations across the country, it shouldn’t matter what device or location they are in, effective collaboration should simply work.

To solve this problem, Cisco has merged Webex and Cisco Spark. Now, the combined collaboration solution, Webex Teams, can bring all users together in one simple-to-use, secure space. The Webex Board feature allows content sharing, digital white boarding and video conferencing, and enables intelligent video and audio communications for meeting rooms of all sizes. Webex Teams also features end-to-end security for safe, encrypted file transfers between devices, which is key for government agencies.

The greater insights enabled by today’s connected technology can create a more efficient government. Yet, it can be difficult to determine which solution is best for your agency and where to start. Working with providers like Iron Bow, a Cisco Gold Partner, with Master Specializations in Collaboration, Security, Managed Services and Cloud, and the first to market with Cisco’s FedRAMP certified collaboration cloud HCS-G can help architect cutting-edge network technologies to your agency’s needs so your IT staff can do the work that makes a difference to the public and your mission.

For more information about how collaborative, connected network innovation and Cisco’s DNA can help support your agency, visit the Iron Bow website.

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