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The Benefits and Challenges of Unified Collaboration Solutions for the Department of Defense: Part 2 of 2

James Ebeler, Chief Technology Officer, Department of Defense, Iron Bow Technologies

July 27, 2021  |  Collaboration  •  IT Modernization  •  Managed Services

Last week’s post was the first of our two-part miniseries on the benefits of Unified Capabilities (UC) and Webex for the Department of Defense (DoD). This week’s post continues our conversation with Iron Bow Technologies’ Chief of Technology for DoD James Ebeler. Part 1 of this series can be found here.

Cisco is a leading vendor for collaboration and communications tools. We went over their solution but what are the specific benefits of Cisco’s Webex for Defense solution?

Benefits to Webex for Defense are three fold:

The first is simplicity. Cisco’s secure, cloud-hosted collaboration tool is a simple, easy to use solution that is feature rich. It can simplify procurement and deployment by delivering voice, video, instant messaging and conferencing in a single package to each user. It also has automatic updating – for things like applications and security – that frees up your IT resources so they can focus on other things critical to mission success. It also helps simplify network changes as personnel rotate through their assignment locations which, anyone in the DoD know, can relieve huge headaches.

Next is flexibility. As a cloud-based service, it shifts spending from CapEx to OpEx for more realistic budgeting. But it still lets you use a combination of existing on premise and off premise assets. With Cisco’s flexible consumption model, the DoD can enhance interoperability between collaboration telephonic and mobile unified communications because Webex for Defense is a pay-as-you-go service without vendor lock-in resulting in more flexibility around budget and deployment.

Finally, and debatably most important, is security. As cyber-threats continue to grow, Cisco will provide the DoD a form of future-proofing that can evolve in response to, and ahead of, these threats. This desire to have tomorrow’s level of security today can be achieved with their “always patched, always secured” approach. This empowers the DoD with a 24×7 security posture featuring active monitoring and incident response, regular scanning and patching and support from a team of cleared U.S. citizen IT professionals. Also, with Webex for Defense, U.S. data stays in the U.S.

How can the DoD achieve an integrated UC framework to ensure mission success?

In short, unifying all communications is the easiest, most cost effective route to mission execution. In order to do this, agencies need to select the right combination of tools based on mission requirements. I would suggest agencies start with determining their budget and flexibility requirements. Once you have identified those aspects, find a solution that meets those needs but can also provide all the necessary and required security components to mission execution.

For a smart budget, find a vendor that provides a number of integrations between disparate systems. The challenge is to find solutions that allow a given Command the ability to extend their return on investment by reusing not only their existing endpoints, but also their current licensing model.

For flexibility, users need access to both on-premises tools as well as cloud-enabled communication and collaboration – this includes UC services on both the Unclassified and Classified networks and at some point other networks, as well. Webex for Defense enables both approaches which is the flexibility the DoD needs because it can unify their tools regardless of user device, access point or data center location. Imagine if you were the warfighter and had the ability to choose from a UC cloud instance or on-premises and didn’t have to worry about changing your current license paperwork. That’s a no brainer and is a real possibility in the world of integrated UC solutions. This would give the DoD the ability to leverage any design of solution and put it all together under one architecture.

From a security perspective, the federal government has an ever-increasing list of requirements for security that demands to be met in order to be utilized by the DoD. It’s crucial that whatever tool an agency chooses to adopt comes with these security mandates built in and are able to be updated without mission interruption.

How can the DoD implement UC?

As they continue to modernize its collaboration and voice architecture, it is key that they have the ability to leverage their current investments posturing themselves for future requirements. This inevitably will take the form of partnerships with leading industry organizations that have the expertise and experience with DoD-specific requirements.

With decades of experience with both the constantly-evolving technology ecosystem and interaction with many DoD agencies, Iron Bow offers the ability to integrate all efforts ensuring that the DoD has the ability to leverage their existing investments, unify legacy communication and assist with designing and implementing a UC solution that is tailored to each agency’s needs.

Iron Bow’s “as-a-service” cloud approach will reduce complexity for IT and for users who just want to get their jobs done. Utilizing Iron Bow’s teams of industry-leading experts, agencies can eliminate concerns about costly infrastructure upgrades and maintenance, rededicate staff to the mission and switch from Capex to Opex and only pay for what they need. Defense members can work in their preferred way to share ideas, make decisions and serve users from anywhere faster and with more flexibility.


Cisco’s Webex for Defense enables cutting edge modern tools, provides the right access for each user and leverages innovative cloud technologies that can help the DoD meet cloud-first mandates while supporting legacy technology that maximizes existing investments. With this arsenal, unified capabilities and hosted collaboration solutions are critical to implement and adopt, especially with a dedicated third party that can streamline the process.

Every day our Department of Defense wakes to various threats. They need to be ready 24×7 and so having innovative solutions that provide secure, reliable and adaptable collaboration is paramount to our nation’s defense. It all starts with a secure and unified communications network: one that connects the unconnected, speeds coordination and decision making but most importantly, increases our nation’s military readiness against current and future threats.

If you’re interested in more information about unified communications for specific branches of the DoD, click here.

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