#NSA Gives A Peek At Their Network Operations

Posted: June 18, 2015 in Tech


As the agency’s IT department grapples with that, one thing is for sure: centralization with OpenFlow is key to its network operations. The reason for this is… wait for it… control.

“We as an enterprise need to be able to control our network,” said Bryan Larish, NSA technical director for enterprise connectivity and specialized IT services. “We need to do it predictably and efficiently if we’re going to make it secure, and if we’re going to be able to support mission critical workloads. OpenFlow centralized control seemed the only viable way to do this from a technical perspective. We are all in on OpenFlow.”

The hook is simplicity, Larish said. OpenFlow is key to allowing the NSA to spy on every aspect of its network to know as much about it as possible, so that behavior can be understood for better performance, predictability and easier operations.

Centralized control also enables the agency to enforce new demands on the network that would otherwise be mission impossible or at least very difficult, Larish says.

In the data center, the NSA runs some “very large” Hadoop data centers with service similar to Amazon Web Service’s S3 file storage. Similar to the campus SDN, NSA plugs a controller into an inventory database to configure the network in a predictable and deterministic way so that when something breaks it is easy to isolate it and find out why.

The NSA also has OpenStack data centers where the complexity and dynamic nature of those clouds is prompting the agency to look at commercially available products to aid in the integration task.

Next up will be the NSA WAN and software-defined exchanges, peering points with other government agencies, Larish says. He’s evaluating the Open Network Foundation’s Atrium open source distribution for one of those use cases.

Full Story @ [Network World]


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