Standard products, smart phones will transform DoD networks

There were lots of interesting developments at the Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems conference in Detroit this week. One was the upbeat air amongst the people who supply and manage the DoD’s networks as they celebrated their critical role in finding Osama Bin Laden.

One keynote speaker highlighted that mood by lighting a celebratory cigar to open his speech, much to the delight of well more than 1,000 audience members. When the focus shifted back to the business at hand, there were a couple key trends from the many speakers who described the latest thinking within the DoD and its equipment suppliers

One is renewed focus on using more standard products and a common framework for communications. While their statements sound a lot like the long-touted move to commercial off the shelf products, many military officers said that budget cuts will drive a move away from proprietary hardware and software.

Another was the rapidly growing importance of smart phones and tablets. These and other mobile devices are a big challenge for security, since they come in from anywhere and often don’t have much protection installed. But networking security personnel realize they can’t prevent people from using these devices. They’re going to have to change their security strategies to mesh with the new reality, where an officer may download top secret files while he’s riding in a cab.

Changes in high-level strategies often ripple out to impact suppliers at all levels, including EMS and possibly even circuit boards. There’s no slowdown in the growing use of networks, but there are many changes in the products used for all types of communication.

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