Unified Communications Manager Cloud for Government (UCM) – Formerly Hosted Collaboration Solution for Government (HCS-G)

Iron Bow’s UCM (formerly HCS-G), powered by Cisco, is a FedRAMP Authorized cloud-based collaboration service built to help you improve communication capabilities, empower your mobile workforce, meet cloud-first mandates and maintain stringent security standards. Check out this video and see how we can help your agency overcome key IT and business challenges.

See what VDI can do for your agency.

The case for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has never been stronger. Agencies are looking for better approaches to securing and managing end-user devices. Check out this infographic and see what’s driving the interest in VDI solutions—and what concerns are slowing agencies down.

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Welcome to Iron Bow's TechSource, a blog about the issues facing the government and industry today and the technologies being adopted to help overcome them.

Top Tech Trends for 2021

Jim Smid, Chief Technology Officer, Iron Bow Technologies

If you’re like most organizations, you are emerging from the uncertainty of 2020 wondering what to expect next and how to best prepare your organization for the future by utilizing the best technology available today. Here are the top tech trends for 2021 and what you can expect in the months to come.

Remote workforce

In the public and commercial sector, working from home is here to stay for most industries. This new work environment brings benefits to organizations like saving money on office space or travel costs. This also comes with new challenges such as connectivity and security. With more people working outside the office network, your organization needs to be able to keep them connected while keeping your networks secure (more on network security later). Organizations can overcome these challenges by utilizing tools like VTC (video teleconferencing), unified communications management (UCM) and on-premises cloud and virtual desktop platform that enables scalable Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

For the federal market, tech companies are more focused than ever on bringing technology to the edge. As federal employees work from home or service members go farther into the field, having reliable connectivity and hardware that supports their mission is critical and will only be more in demand as networking capabilities expand.

Mission Intelligence

Agencies are designing new ways to thrive in our new COVID-19 environment by utilizing artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and IoT to optimize workflows, automation and data sharing that ultimately lead to better data-driven decision making. If agencies are able to redistribute rote processes to AI, it frees its workforce to focus on incoming security challenges, expanding security capabilities and gaining insight into business opportunities by analyzing data and articulating how to optimize processes that will increase the bottom line.

One trend we will see more of in 2021 is adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and its evolvement into intelligent automation including AI. RPA is the set of tools designed to take repetitive tasks (data entry or data mining, for example) and automate all of them. Intelligent Automation includes machine learning as it performs a rote process over and over to takes it a step further with AI principles and pattern recognition to eliminate manual steps.

Cyber security

This is the trend that will show the most movement for 2021. While mobile, cloud and virtualization technologies have led to enhanced productivity, these technologies have also led to an array of new attack vectors for a wide variety of malicious and non-malicious actors. Organizations need a comprehensive approach to cyber security that looks at the whole of their systems and takes into account how users access and utilize data. The key in cyber security is being proactive. Using cyber intelligence available today, agencies can be actively looking at and scanning what is happening on their networks, have their tools synced and seamlessly integrated so that all the tools know when something is off and are ready to shut off any and all access points whenever it is needed.

To get to this point, however, you first need to figure out the status of your network. Evaluate your current security inventory, look at your policies and procedures and then perform a gap analysis to determine if you’re missing anything crucial to secure your network. Next, do any integrations, automation and analytics to ensure all tools are synced. This will facilitate the automation of all your tools and allow you to have full control and insight into what’s happening in your network and proactively address issues.

In order to achieve true security, agencies need solutions that achieve resiliency by minimizing risk and maximizing technology investments. There are several aspects to cyber security to take into consideration:

  • Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) – This approach to security is a model for providing granular access to applications based not only on the user, but also the device they are using. It is built on the premise that all networks, internal and external, should be treated as untrusted. Within a zero trust model, organizations depend on data protection, policy validation and updating their inventory of all devices and databases. To adopt ZTA, start by completing an asset inventory, complete a user inventory, and document and automate your requirements for network access. Organizations can do this in-house with their own IT teams or you can bring in a third party that intimately knows current security best practices.
  • Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) – U.S. government customers increasingly require immediate use of the market’s most modern commercial hardware and software technologies within National Security Systems (NSS) in order to achieve mission objectives. Consequently, the National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) has developed ways to leverage emerging technologies to deliver more timely cyber security solutions for rapidly evolving customer requirements. NSA/CSS’s Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) Program has been established to enable commercial products to be used in layered solutions protecting classified NSS data. As more users are accessing secure networks from untrusted ones and with different devices (home laptops, for example), agencies need to make sure the end users are doing so in a trusted manner by encrypting and isolating. This results in enabling users on untrusted networks to access trusted data. To implement CSfC successfully, organizations should choose a CSfC trusted integrator partner that leverages a defined and proven project methodology to architect and implement CSfC technology solutions that includes capabilities like multi-site connectivity, mobile access and campus WLAN.
  • Endpoint detection and response – Traditional perimeter defenses can no longer be relied on as the sole means of protection. Organizations are implementing advanced security technologies for all aspects of the network including: the network edge, the data center, the enterprise LAN and externally connected computers. The possibility of malicious attacks entering the network will always exist. It is critical to have the security tools in place before attacks happen to speed response time. Consider conducting a network security assessment to take holistic look at the security of your network and uncover any vulnerabilities.
  • Breach and attack simulation – Test, test and test. Take control and proactively mitigate organizational risks before trusted assets and critical business continuity are compromised.
  • Vulnerability assessment – Discover and remediate the known holes in your environment. Knowing where your network is vulnerable to attacks is the best place to start when increasing your security. Security companies are constantly identifying risks and publishing solutions which need to be deployed as soon as possible. It’s critical to continually scan for these remedies to mitigate exposure (for example, software and operating system patches).

Software-defined networking (SDN) and programmability

Software-defined networking (SDN) is an architecture designed to make a network more flexible, efficient and easier to manage. Programmability is integrating disparate systems and software using APIs to provide automation and data synchronization. Agencies can use programmability to optimize and automate various processes within their network. Essentially, it is the ability for your ecosystem to cooperate and work in concert.

As we get further into 2021, we’ll see more organizations adopting SDN because of the benefits it offers like security, transport flexibility and simplified, centralized management. In practical terms, this will better position organizations to take advantage of the cloud in a secure way that brings efficiency to productivity.

As a known industry leader in the federal and commercial IT space, Iron Bow’s experts not only bring decades of experience with these concepts, but also offer proven solutions to the growing and evolving challenges organizations and agencies face today. To learn about our solutions, either visit our website or reach out to see how we can collaborate to solve your biggest IT challenges.

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