Department of Defense Testing Demonstrates Security, Interoperability of Cisco VoIP Equipment
April 21, 2005
By Jenny Carless, News@Cisco
The United States Department of Defense (DoD) and others now hold the key that opens the door to the benefits of IP Communication. Thanks to recent certification of Cisco Systems Voice over IP (VoIP) equipment, DoD voice communications can begin to experience the benefits of converged data, voice and video networks; IP telephony's demonstrated return on investment (ROI); and - most importantly - the proven security and interoperability that the recent certification provides.
Cisco Achieves JITC PBX1 Certification
A federal law, passed in December 2002, requires all equipment (voice, video and data) that attaches to the DoD's voice networks to be certified by the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC). Cisco is the first vendor to achieve JITC PBX1 certification with an IP-centric softswitch. (The company earned JITC PBX2 certification in October 2004.)
Certification includes rigorous testing to help ensure that all aspects of the configuration conform to the interoperability, reliability, resilience and security requirements of the DoD's multi-vendor voice network. It is composed of two sets of tests, both of which vendors must pass to be fully certified:
- Interoperability: including regression testing on interfaces and Multi-Level Precedence and Preemption (MLPP) functionality for interoperability. (MLPP allows more important users to override routine traffic and helps ensure service during an emergency.)
- Security, or "Information Assurance" testing: including policy testing (passwords, account lockouts, failed logins, etc.) and intrusion testing.
The primary differences between PBX1 and 2 certifications are that PBX1-certified equipment can be used in Command and Control (C2) environments (those in which military commanders direct operations) and that it supports MLPP.
"We estimate that C2 environments make up as much as 85 percent of the DoD's voice network," explains Ed Carney, vice president and general manager of the Government Systems Unit at Cisco. "That's a substantial portion of the military's communications infrastructure that can now take advantage of the benefits of IP Communications."
Security for Mission-Critical Environments
The military recognizes that its communications network may be a target for either conventional or information attacks at any time. So the meticulous JITC certification process helps ensure that, in times of peace or conflict, the DoD has maximum access to its voice network to carry out vital operations.
"The fact that the DoD is willing to move towards VoIP in C2 situations is a clear indication to other government and enterprise customers that they should have no fears - from either a reliability or security standpoint - in migrating to VoIP for their own mission-critical applications," notes Carney.
Further, for those with lingering concerns about having to remove their legacy equipment in order to use Cisco VoIP, this JITC PBX1 testing shows that the Cisco infrastructure is completely interoperable. Customers can migrate from traditional TDM networks to IP Communications at their own pace.
"Other government agencies aren't required to use a certified vendor, as the DoD is," Carney says. "However, many - including Homeland Security - have looked at the DoD certification requirements closely and have been influenced in their purchase decisions by the equipment that has passed this thorough testing."
The JITC certification process tests a network configuration in its entirety. Certified elements of the Cisco configuration include:
- Cisco CallManager 4.1 call processing software, extending enterprise telephony features and capabilities to packet telephony network devices such as Cisco IP phones, media processing devices, VoIP gateways and multimedia applications;
- Stackable, multi-layer Cisco Catalyst 3550 and 3560 switches, delivering high-performance IP routing, advanced quality of service (QoS) and enhanced data security across the network while maintaining the simplicity of traditional LAN switching;
- Cisco Catalyst 4500 and 6500 switches, supporting converged services from the wiring closet to the core to the wide area network (WAN) edge;
- Cisco 2600 and 3700 gateways, providing on-board LAN/WAN connectivity and new high-density service modules in a compact form factor; and
- Cisco IP phones 7940G, 7960G and 7970G, featuring large pixel-based displays to bring productivity-enhancing applications and customization options to the phone and provide inline power support over Ethernet.
Unlocking the Door to IP Communications
The certified Cisco IP Communications infrastructure will help streamline and transform communications in the DoD enterprise and tactical environments, supporting the military's goal of network-centric operations. Benefits of a converged network include faster and more effective communications; the ability to support smaller, more dispersed mobile units; significant ROI from taking advantage of a single network infrastructure; and immediate productivity gains for both back-office voice/data management and end-users at any military installation.
JITC PBX1 testing and certification has demonstrated the security, reliability and interoperability of Cisco equipment for mission-critical environments. Access to certified equipment unlocks the door to an IP-centric infrastructure, allowing the DoD to move forward in upgrading its networks confident in the knowledge that it is building upon a well-tested, secure platform.
Jenny Carless is a freelance writer located in Santa Cruz, CA.
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