Public Sector Future Podcast | Episode 45: Secure digital collaboration in Defense organization

Episode 45 guest speaker, Perry Smith

Secure digital collaboration in Defense organizations

with Perry Smith

On the second episode of our Defense and Intelligence mini-series, AT Ball talks to Perry Smith of Myriad Technologies. They discuss the technology that enables secure collaboration between defense organizations.

Episode 45: Digital Collaboration in Defense: Using technology to enable secure cooperation

Public Sector Future

Episode summary

On the second episode of our Defense and Intelligence mini-series, guest host AT Ball talks to Perry Smith, of Myriad Technologies. Perry shares an inside look into the technology that enables secure collaboration between defense organizations.

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How do digital collaboration tools drive success for defense departments and governments around the world?

On the second episode of our Defense and Intelligence mini-series, guest host AT Ball talks to Perry Smith, of Myriad Technologies. Perry shares an inside look into the technology that enables secure collaboration between defense organizations.

Perry Smith is the Strategic Partner Manager for Myriad Technologies, who specialize in Secure Search and Information Exchange, or “S2IX” for short. They primarily work with military personnel in Defense Departments and focus particularly on defense and intelligence scenarios. The technology is also applicable to other scenarios where government departments need to securely exchange information.

How do partnerships and new technologies impact the way Smith and the Myriad team is driving success for defense departments and governments as they deliver mission-critical services?

“Our partnership with Microsoft is really based in trying to move the technology forward and being able to think of the technology in new ways that reflect the current era of technology, greater competition amongst countries, and really a greater need to protect yourself from cyberattacks and that sort of thing.”

How S2IX enables defense organizations

“We work incredibly collaboratively with Australian Defense, and what we are solving is the ability to balance “need to know” and “need to share” and to allow data to flow independent of networks and independent of operating environments, so that we can get data from the point of generation to the point of consumption, or the point of decision making quickly, effectively and for that effect.”

“So what that means in Australian Defense is we’re currently rolling out to specific vessels. So we have worked with Army, Navy and Joint, but at the moment, we’re very focused on Australian Navy and their data sharing challenges, especially when you’re talking about a maritime environment.”

Sharing information with coalition partners

In today’s world, defense forces do not operate alone, they need to share information across different classifications and schemas of classification with coalition partners. What options are Myriad presenting to address these challenges?

“Most modern technology is focused around a centralized set of control servers, and a centralized set of security and authorization. And if you’re talking about a federation of partners coming together to work together, you can’t have that because you’ve got varying levels of trust between those different countries, and also those different forces. So, what we bring is the ability to balance that need to know, need to share in these multi-level security, multi-domain operations.”

Smith shared a recent example, “Our participation at the NATO Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise, where we showcased S2IX running on Azure cloud, and on accredited environments within that, to be able to demonstrate both the cloud technologies and secure information exchange at those higher grades of classification.”

“So, being able to protect at multiple layers, not just the network layer or the compute layer, but all the way up to the data layer itself and being able to do that with assurance in these multi-country operational scenarios is really where S2IX shines and comes to the fore.”

Smith added, “And I think that’s one of the wonderful things about working with Microsoft, is we don’t just operate in a vacuum. We work directly with the development teams to upshift the technology where needed, to be able to operate at this higher level of classifications.”

Making room for collaboration

Where does Smith see potential for digital tools to allow collaboration? And what does he see needing to change to enable this?

“One of the biggest changes that I look at is the landscape of government and how they’re adopting and using technology, and I would say that some of the biggest changes is how government looks at its digital sovereignty, its control of that data, and its management of that data; and to be able to work more collaboratively with the hyperscale companies, such as Microsoft, to innovate on the tools and technologies which raise the trust, raise the assurance of the data.”

Smith continued, “Part of the approach is what we’re trying to do, is build a coalition of the willing within the defense industry base, to work with the military, so that the militaries can have the assurance and buy off-the-shelf solutions that answers their problems and answers how they need to move forward.”

“So, what that raises is the second part of the challenge, which is essentially, the government procurement models were really built to buy technology and adopt and rollout technology to their environments in the 1970s and ‘80s. And so, that’s a big change for governments. And I think industry has a huge role in trying to work with the customer to help them understand what that change can look like and should look like.”

The two core issues: risk and trust

“Risk is very much at the core of a lot of this. So, risk and trust, I think are the two core issues. In the area of risk, there’s a couple of areas that represent very clear and imminent risks to these types of environments. Part of the approach has to be to bring the concept of zero trust. So, trust no part of your supply chain, trust no part of your data assurance, and supply chain for data assurance. And with that, what you bring is the understanding that you don’t just need to assure the system of systems approach as a core competency to governments, but you also need to assure the technologies from a cyber defensive IP theft or direct attack sort of approach.”

Recommendations for Defense and Intelligence organizations

Reflecting on increases in state-sponsored cyber activity and ongoing regional conflicts, Smith shared “I really think that the posture of governments to adopt technology needs to change, particularly the military. So, what I mean specifically is with the current state of the world, the focus needs to be on technologies that are ready now, available now. And that means they’ve been military tested and validated. It means that they are backed by allied forces and allied companies.” 

Smith added, “And in that sense, S2IX is very much in that mode and vein, because we’ve currently participated successfully in over 20 military exercises. We’ve got capability in theater. And a lot of technologies purport to do a lot of things, but they are not proven in these operating environments. And that’s a key thing.”

To find out more:

Learn more about how Microsoft can support Defense and Intelligence organizations

Learn more about Myriad Technologies and S2IX

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