HA — It's No Laughing Matter

If you open your notebook computer during a meeting, you likely expect to be able to open whatever document or application you need — even if it's a file or app that resides on an agency server back at headquarters. And you probably also expect to open it immediately — not in a few minutes or hours, but right then and there.

If you open your notebook computer during a meeting, you likely expect to be able to open whatever document or application you need — even if it's a file or app that resides on an agency server back at headquarters. And you probably also expect to open it immediately — not in a few minutes or hours, but right then and there.

It comes down to achieving high availability — the ability to securely access data when and where users need it. High availability, or HA, is something that most federal IT and networking teams take quite seriously.

"The network has to be available all the time — 24x7," points out Michael Byrne, deputy of the 21st Communications Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base. "A lot of the missions are using video conferencing, and the traffic rides across our voice network."

The ability to ensure such access is a factor in the convergence of networking services. As agencies upgrade and refresh their networks, they are finding that unified communications can help them meet HA demands while also controlling costs.

"We are moving toward unified communications where our voice, data and video conferencing are all converging," and a single network infrastructure will carry it, says Steve Dash, acting director of Air Traffic Control Communications Services for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Given the vast and far-flung nature of many of the government's organizations, achieving end-to-end high availability requires addressing complex technical and management issues. But as agencies move from traditional private branch exchange systems to Voice over IP, they are laying the foundation for both HA and UC services.

To read about how the 21st Communications Squadron, FAA and other agencies are successfully tackling such efforts, read "Always Connected."

Remote but Ready

Of equally critical concern to agencies is how to best secure those highly available networks and the users tapping into them. In this issue, we have tried to provide tactical advice to help you with that challenge:

  • The Air Force Research Lab has crafted the Lightweight Portable Security–Remote Access software to let users securely log on to their network from any PC. You can read more about it in "Simple Security on the Go."
  • In "Avoiding a Bitter End," you will learn how three agencies deploy remote access appliances to protect their wide-ranging workforces.
  • And, in "Making the Most of VLANs," a networking expert provides pointers about how to best deploy virtual LANs.

This issue also offers two product reviews targeted at the mobile-minded. Tthere's a test drive of the new Samsung Galaxy Tab, and our reviewer evaluates the latest version of Symantec's pcAnywhere remote control app.

The lure of anywhere, anytime computing is here to stay. What's more, in an environment when budgets are often tight or flat, technology tools that let workers collaborate more and be more productive from the field will be embraced by senior managers and users alike.

In this issue, we showcase two such types of programs: telehealth within the Defense Department and virtual desktops on the International Space Station (Page 28). These vastly different initiatives share a common and compelling driver: innovative deployment of technology to meet the mission.





Ryan Petersen


EDITOR IN CHIEF

May 04 2011