Report urges network redundancy

To guard against a sudden loss of communications capabilities, the federal government should enact policies to create greater redundancy in their communications systems, according to a new report from The Progress and Freedom Foundation.

"Many federal agency buildings and installation locations apparently do not currently have true telecommunications network redundancy installed in their buildings," wrote the report's author, Randolph May, a senior fellow and director of communications policy studies at the think tank, which focuses on the impact of technology on public policy.

The federal government has taken a lead on developing redundant systems for communications networks on which lives depend, including those used by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Defense Department, said Warren Suss, a telecommunications and information technology consultant and president of Suss Consulting Inc.

"For the government's most critical networks, they've been taking care of this problem for years," he said. "The challenge is applying it to the next level. If an FAA network goes down, the lives of the public can be at risk. We know if a defense network goes down, the lives of our troops are at risk. But there are other levels of risk that are important."

In many cases, vendors develop redundant systems not because the government specifies it but because it's the only way to achieve the demanded reliability, he said. When contracts demand "four nines," or 99.9999 percent uptime, vendors rely on redundancy.

However, new challenges are emerging, he noted. IP doesn't use the same dedicated point-to-point transmission that older voice and data networks were built on. And it's expensive to essential duplicate capabilities.

"The challenge is to identify that critical infrastructure and to make the cost tradeoffs you need to make," he said. "It can be extremely expensive."

In the report, May emphasizes the importance of protecting the communications infrastructure and lays out basic requirements for redundancy:

* Physically separate entry and exit points to a building, separated by a significant distance.

* Separate rights-of-way between the building and the routing center.

* Alternate services should use a physically separate switching or routing center.

Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.