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Dependability of public e-communication networks – ropes to skip 2

October 8th, 2008 · 3 Comments ·

    Resilience describes the ability of communications networks in providing and maintaining acceptable level of service in the face of various challenges to normal operations.

More and more we live in world where the use of information and communication technology is part of our daily lives. Hence dependability and network resilience is becoming ever more important for all of us. I began this series with an introductory post here:

Dependability of public e-communication networks – ropes to skip – introduction

I followed up with discussing challenge 1:

1) Setting the dependability rules ===> (Dependability of public e-communication networks ropes to skip 1)

Today I continue addressing:

2) Collaboration versus duplication

Common sense does not always win and, unfortunately, defending one’s turf may win over the need to collaborate and find effective solutions to the problems.

Challenge: Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing? This requires regular information exchange, preferably in informal settings AND working on joint projects that lead to joint solutions. Formalized procedures’ effectiveness depends on the personalities involved.

These days people are focusing on international collaboration to improve dependability of information networks and infrastructure such as:

Next Generation Access broadband networks (NGA)

EISAS and ENISA – will it help improve risk management across the EU?

However, similarly to a marriage that is on the rocks, dependability of public e-communications networks is best improved if the partners start to resolve the issues at hand. Naturally, one can use a more centralized approach

    Direction centrale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information dans l’organisation de la sécurité des systèmes d’information

Using a centralized approach to manage security and network resilience

    Taken from:

The French approach, as illustrated in the chart above, assures that each ministry has a group focusing on security while the Direction centrale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information (DCSSI) at the Prime Minister’s office coordinates and champions these matters.

Such a centralized structure can and does force different stakeholders to work together.

However, in some governments this may neither be desirable nor feasible or wanted. In turn, a more voluntary approach is used. Here people collaborate, because nobody can address the resilience of public e-communications networks alone. Neither the telecom regulator nor the privacy commissioner can achieve better network resilience by themselves. Infrastructure owners and operators as well as consumer groups have to participate. In turn, things start to move in the right direction.

critical step

This is like a marriage that is going through rough waters or parents trying to deal with teenagers’ lack of ….. whatever :-)

More often than not it is very helpful to get outside assistance – in network security this is called international collaboration (or getting CERTs to work together).

However, ultimately it is the local players or the teenagers and their parents that have to find a modus operandi. The latter must be workable in order to attain improved discipline or network resilience. In turn, if information exchange does not work on the local level, collaboration remains a pipe dream. Without collaboration between parents and teenagers, no practical solution will be found and family life could become rather difficult. Unfortunately, without a commitment by family members (stakeholders) for collaborating and working together, outside assistance (or international collaboration) will not achieve much.

Accordingly, getting collaboration working on the local level is a critical step. Making this step will help in achieving higher levels of resilience and dependability for public e-communcations networks. Without such an effort, duplication will be rampant and effectiveness of all this activity will be questionable. Remember, one weak link in the chain is all it takes and without collaborating we do not even know where the weak link might be.
Talking, listening to and learning from each other, while working towards the mutually agreed objective is key for moving toward greater network resilience.

What do you think? What makes for good collaboration when trying to improve network dependability and resilience. Should the French approach become the norm for other countries?

Share your thoughts or work and network experiences in the comments below.


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