OPED: can WIN-T evolve?

An network executive suggests adding network management tools to WIN-T

By Joe Kim - senior vice president and global CTO for Solar Winds

As military action becomes more dispersed, the Department of Defense (DOD) is expanding the concept of the wireless warfighter. A great example is the United States Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T), which “delivers an extensive tailorable suite of integrated tactical network communication and network/cyber management capabilities to support today’s complex Joint, Coalition, and Civil missions worldwide.”

But as mobile technology continues to play a mission-critical role in national defense, the DOD must take steps to ensure that communications between commanders and armed forces remain clear and secure. It must implement strategies to monitor all aspects of its mobile networks for reliability and security.

Can You Hear Me?

Nobody wants a “can you hear me” situation when lives are at stake. Unfortunately, for many mobile military operations, reliable communication has become increasingly complex.

Today, there are several main issues that armed forces routinely encounter when setting up mobile communications and tactical operations centers (TOCs). Data and communications traffic can create bandwidth issues, resulting in the loss of critical messages. Additionally, communication at the edge of the network—also known as “last mile” communication—continues to be where the most support is needed. Two devices with the same IP addresses can pose conflicts that prohibit either device from being able to communicate.

It’s not just verbal communications that can be compromised; access to mission-critical data can also be problematic. Though the size and sophistication of the equipment will vary based on the mission, each TOC includes physical and virtual servers to host applications, storage systems, applications, and underpinning networks. Faulty communications networks can make it difficult for forces to access and share important resources and information, which could impact their missions.

Consistent and effective battlefield communications

The importance of automated network management and monitoring in this type of environment cannot be overstated, since it can be the key to maintaining consistent and effective battlefield communications. Military forces can easily identify potential problem areas in their mobile communications systems so that forces maintain constant and secure contact with each other and central command. Continuous network monitoring can also help proactively prevent issues—from possible cyberintrusions to bandwidth anomalies and beyond—before they become real problems.

There are several ways that managers can use network monitoring to improve warfighter communications. Bandwidth usage can be closely monitored to discern and identify network bottlenecks that could impact soldier-to-soldier and unit-to-unit communications, and provide network engineers with the information they need to alleviate the congestion. Network traffic types, patterns, and protocols can be closely analyzed to identify the impact that each of these components is having on the network. All of these reports can provide valuable information that can be used to reduce latency and jitters and improve overall quality of communications.

Managers can also use monitoring to ensure that their servers, storage systems, and applications remain functional and accessible to mobile forces. Server utilization, virtual machine performance and availability, storage capacity, and the status of applications can all be closely analyzed. Problems that occur within any of these areas can be isolated and addressed in a timely manner, ensuring the needed availability.

Further, engineers can receive actionable alert information that can be used to avert potential problems. Systems can be set to send out proactive alerts that derive information from trends and communications thresholds to warn managers of impending trouble, so they can address these threats before they occur. Additionally, reactive alerts pertaining to a system down or anomaly detections can be used to quickly identify the cause of everything, from mere communication network hiccups to more worrisome matters, such as potential cyberintrusions, hacks, or vulnerabilities. Managers can use these alerts to rapidly address these problems—a major benefit for military forces that may find themselves in remote areas with little time for remediation.

As for the problem of duplicate IP addresses, managers should implement IP address management solutions that allow them to automate the assignment of IP addresses. This practice eliminates the potential for a manager to inadvertently assign an address that is already in use—and, as a result, eliminate that particular mobile communication problem. It can also save a lot of time that would otherwise be spent looking for an open address.

Reliable tactical communications networks

Time, of course, is of the essence, particularly in battlefield operations. Mobile forces cannot afford to stop and take hours—perhaps days—to figure out why they’re not able to communicate with one another. As mobile communications become increasingly mission-critical, it’s imperative that the DOD and its agencies implement top-flight network management and monitoring procedures to ensure their tactical communications networks remain reliable and effective.

 

Joe Kim is senior vice president and global CTO for Solar Winds, a company that creates and markets network management software.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.