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Unreliability of Infrastructure Makes Risk Management Essential

Unreliability of Infrastructure Makes Risk Management Essential

By Sue Bushell

Too few government CIOs understand how unreliable is the converged IP infrastructure that market trends are promoting and pushing heavily through their organizations. Disruption to the network can severely impact and expose governments to financial and productivity loss and potential breaches in security, warns Jean Turgeon, Nortel Global Enterprise CTO office, enterprise solutions engineering leader.

Turgeon, the keynote speaker at a seminar held in Canberra last month, says the key CIO concern should be to build the right level of reliability prior to deploying any type of services.

"The key issue is that the IP infrastructure has not reached a level of reliability that is required to deliver those services unless it is properly planned and designed to meet those carrier-like reliability capabilities and delivery," he says.

"As CIOs start porting more and more business critical services or business applications to their infrastructure, downtime is no longer allowed. So while the CIOs used to have maintenance windows in the past, they now have to redesign and re-engineer the entire network to be able to meet those new requirements and not shut down any services or any of the devices on the network that are supporting those mission-critical type applications," he says.

With such high stakes, it is imperative that government CIOs have a plan in place to mitigate the risks. Turgeon suggests they should start by measuring the amount of downtime that they have experienced or are experiencing right now, prior to deploying IP services. Unfortunately, he says, too many CIOs - perhaps due to a lack of understanding or knowledge of the current potential problems with the infrastructure - have already started to deploy services such as IP video surveillance, IP telephony and business applications which are now being impacted while they discover that the network is not up to par to meet and deliver those services.

"It is not that the technical solutions are not available to do it, it is that the design and the planning have not properly been done and there is no monitoring of their current environment to understand clearly the level of reliability that they can meet."

Worse, few government CIOs have got it right so far, although Turgeon says CIOs are starting to pay special attention to this as they experience downtime in the service that they provide to the public.

"So we're starting to see a huge increase in the number of requests for us to sit down or our consultants to sit down with them to review the network design, to finally meet those requirements and then revisit the schedule and start putting those services," Turgeon says.

While they rely on reliability, they actually need to understand the security impact and the reliability impact when they have security impact entering their network. So security and reliability go hand-in-hand in order to deliver business continuity. They cannot just focus on the infrastructure reliability without understanding the potential security impact, and they cannot deliver a secure network without focusing on reliability. So the key is both of these things go hand in hand and must be considered and planned properly at the same time to meet those business requirements," Turgeon says.

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