In part 2 of our 3-part interview series, Twisted Pair’s Tom Guthrie discusses how
secure unified communications supports covert missions, and the unique needs
and security requirements of international public safety and defense
organizations. (Read part
Are there any special
considerations for UC that supports covert missions?
The considerations are role by role, but on the covert side users will
usually have a device specific to the operation. So in the federal space, such
as a secret service agent or border patrol enforcement officer, they may be
bringing their own device, or they are working with a subset of devices that
have been approved because of their secure capabilities that they can choose
from – which is one reason you still see so many federal employees carrying
Blackberries. Our technology provides many different applications for PCs,
desktop IP phones and smartphones that let the user interface to a WAVE communications system
to meet their unique needs.
What we’re trying to do is give them flexibility. If you’re able to
bring your own device and use it, then there’s app for that, but if there are
others that are handed to you because they are specifically secured or more
appropriate for their role, then we want an application that works with that as
well. The theme throughout is replacing a single-purpose, very expensive piece
of hardware and delivering that same functionality through an application that
can run on any device.
How does this approach differ
from the way secure UC has been handled in the past?
Historically it’s been common for defense organizations to use a large
systems integrator to build something that fits 100% of their singular, unique
requirement. But you just can’t keep up with technology that way; the
development process moves too slowly. So now customers are looking into using off-the-shelf
technology, which in many cases may already meet 80-90% of requirements and can
be used immediately. And because the systems are less specialized, you can
select from multiple, competitively priced vendors, and since other agencies buy
the devices, they’re cheaper to produce and purchase.
Does this same scenario apply to
international defense communities?
We’re seeing this same scenario around the world. Many enterprises are
using Microsoft Lync as an off-the-shelf technology and see WAVE in the same
way, so if you’re in an enterprise-like environment, you use Lync. If you need
to extend access from Lync
out to those tactical radio systems, that’s where WAVE comes in. We’re a
software connector providing access to other systems.
I can give you a few operational examples:
- In the military you have update briefings –
essentially very large, international conference calls that are convened over
secure communications to discuss strategy and updates. What they want to join
is not just a conference call; they need to be linked to a forward base, for
example, places like Afghanistan or Iraq. And they’re not just on phones – you
can have people participating through PCs or a tactical radio system, so you
need something that can integrate those together. That’s the role we’ve been trying
to play through off-the-shelf software.
- On a smaller scale, if you’re using it for a
tactical operations center, you have a forward operating base in a tent that’s
fairly well protected. Some people are using IP phones and ruggedized laptops,
but they need to reach out and talk to a Stryker or tank brigade using a
tactical radio system. So the question becomes how do you bridge those
together? – that’s what
our software does. With a UC solution you can have a headset, be sitting at
a laptop, and talking on a radio channel being used by a Stryker Brigade.
This is the essence of what UC means today – how “left out” systems can
be included in the realm of unified communications.
What kind of additional security
does that provide?
We’re encrypting the transmissions themselves, in addition to
transmission protocol through Lync. Whether it’s a private IP network, or a
public carrier network, we encrypt all the traffic, from the end device back to
the connection point and to Lync so that all the path of the communication is
We see this especially for federal organizations in the U.S., or
internationally for a state security directorate or a Ministry of Interior
because the national security and local security is the same for many of
We’re seeing that in Europe, where they raised standards for public
safety organizations (through TETRA),
a user at a desk using Lync can securely talk out to a user on a TETRA radio
and also a user of a smartphone. It doesn’t matter if you’re at your desk, on a
radio or on a mobile device, you can securely communicate whenever you need to.
Next: Q&A with Tom Guthrie –
Part 3: The burgeoning UC marketplace, major trends shaping the industry
landscape, and the future of Twisted Pair’s WAVE technology.
Part 1: Secure
UC now and then: The changing landscape and unique challenges of a modern
To ask questions, share ideas, or receive more
information about secure
UC, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or @MicrosoftPSNS.