• Credit: Riverbed
    Credit: Riverbed

Sometimes, a look behind the scenes reveals a less-than-impressive reality. A high-end restaurant can receive excellent reviews, for example, until a customer catches a glimpse of their kitchen with substandard hygiene, ancient equipment, and poorly coordinated staff.

The same can be said of the back-office IT networks of defence organisations. The public sees impressive investment in weapons systems such as the ADF’s $45BN Hunter Class surface fleet, yet behind the scenes, personnel are struggling to send an email to headquarters.

“Any network in most defence environments is up to 30 years of patchwork and network-centric stovepipes which needs to be understood and controlled so proper decisions about future use can be made,” said Colonel (Retired) Joseph Pishock, who had oversight of the IT network for US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

The problem extends beyond glitchy networks and slow emails. A mixture of legacy, modern, and unique networks, overly complex defence IT can obscure end-to-end visibility. This means defence can only react to situations, best encapsulated in the traditional crisis-mode “war room”, where issues are addressed as they arise. But in an era where threats can evolve at breakneck speed, a reactive approach is no longer sufficient.

“They made sense at the time. Now looking forward, do they still make sense?” asks Pishock.

The Evolution of Network Management

The shift from reactive to proactive network management is a game-changer for defence. Proactive management involves constant monitoring, predictive analytics, and pre-emptive troubleshooting to ensure network issues are addressed before they escalate into crises. It’s not just about efficiency: streamlining operations can mean the difference between mission success and failure.

Riverbed’s Unified Observability

In an environment where milliseconds matter, military and intelligence IT teams need to cut through complexity and accelerate decision-making across complex hybrid environments. On the battlefield, leaders rely on peak-performance networks and applications that can rapidly adapt to changing conditions.

Offering unmatched capabilities across all major enclaves of defence network environments, Riverbed’s Unified Observability platform captures full-fidelity telemetry across the IT ecosystem. It monitors every packet and every flow, and unlike others they do not do sampling. AI and ML analyse masses of data to produce context-rich, filtered and prioritised insights from all domains to empower decision making. End-to-end visibility across all levels of command and control enables NetOps, SecOps, IT teams, Commanders and other leaders to extract actionable data and make immediate decisions in real time.

The end result? Network postures are transformed from reactive to proactive, driving critical outcomes including enhanced operational efficiency through streamlined processes and reduced downtime. The end-user experience is better and war rooms are no longer needed to respond to every issue. Real-time data and predictive analytics enable leaders to make informed, strategic decisions. Most importantly, advanced monitoring and pre-emptive troubleshooting ensure that mission-critical applications and services remain uninterrupted – even during a hurricane.

The Hurricane, the Rat, and the Data Centre

An excellent example of Unified Observability in action occurred in 2022, when Tampa was being battered by Hurricane Ian. As USSOCOM is headquartered on the coast, the decision was made to evacuate the site and move to alternate bases to keep people safe.

While USSOCOM was supporting a live mission from its new HQ, a rat chewed through an air conditioning power cord in the coastal data centre and the temperature began rising to a dangerous level. It was unsafe to send people to repair the damage during a hurricane, so a decision had to be made as to which services were essential for the live mission and which could be turned off.

Flying blind, this would have been impossible. But USSOCOM was six months into their deployment of Riverbed, meaning Pishock was able to see which services were located where, and his team were able to determine which services could be turned off to slow the steadily rising temperature. They had a map of cyberspace and were able to use this newfound clarity and control to save the data centre infrastructure and successfully support the mission during the crisis. Hurricane Ian showed that when it’s mission critical, full visibility matters.

Request a demo

Now is the moment to enhance visibility and efficiency throughout networks and crucial applications. You require a comprehensive solution that not only visualises and optimises but also addresses issues and boosts network performance for assured mission readiness.

We can delve into the reasons behind Riverbed being selected as the unified observability solution in areas of Defence and explore the possibility of working with an existing area of Defence to help you oversee your network. Riverbed's Unified Observability portfolio converts data into practical insights, fostering accelerated performance for a smooth digital experience that plays a pivotal role in achieving mission success.

Request a demo today with the Riverbed Defence Team.

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