Why DISA does not worry about administering software patches on thousands of switches with Optical LAN

by | Dec 10, 2018 | Blog

DISA Command HQ

At the US Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) Forecast to Industry 2018 event, Dave Bennett (Director of DISA’s Operations Center), spoke about the DISA Operations Center mission, structure, and changes.

There were two significant statements that caught my attention. For reference, here is the YouTube video of his complete presentation.

First, Mr. Bennett started his presentation by challenging the vendor community by saying, “Understand our domain. Understand how we do business. Understand how your product adds value in our space…What you did in industry 9x out of 10 will not apply in my space. We tend to break capabilities that works in industry. I’ve seen it time and time again over the years.”

Tellabs knows DISA’s requirements well. In fact, DISA has installed Tellabs Optical LAN at the DISA Global Operations Command (DGOC) facility at Scott Air Force Base. Optical LAN was chosen for its’ secure and scalable architecture. By removing the need to manage individual access layer switches, OLAN reduced the number of potential intrusion points, and ensures provisioning adheres to consistent policies.

Second, in response to a question (see video at 13:20) about resources it takes to manage software patches, Mr. Bennett said, “The bigger problem I see with patches and updates going out globally is volume. And, I don’t mean in terms of size. I’ll use infrastructure as an example. I’ve got a patch that needs to go out to let’s just say a Cisco router. One patch, I may have 1000 devices that have to be patched. Some patches may require hands-on to do the work. So, think about going to 1000 locations instantaneously at one time. So, it’s not the size of the patch, but the breath and the scale that we have to operate. Which goes back to my comment earlier about – you got to understand the operational environment we deal in. We break most things that industry tends to think about. Scale is one of those things.”

Optical LAN directly addresses this limitation of traditional networks via its inherent software-defined network (SDN) architecture. Since the intelligence, control and management of the OLAN is centralized, the above scenario is a non-issue for the DGOC facility. With the OLAN architecture, one can manage the network via a few IP addresses versus 100s or 1000s as required with legacy switched networks.  Furthermore, OLAN ONTs are designed without local management access to further reduce the need for human touch. The ONTs are simple, secure optical-to-electrical terminals which are controlled to deliver the connections, services and applications required to meet the mission requirement.

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Tom Parisi
Tom Parisi
VP Federal Sales