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Defense contractor enlists enterprise network management services

A defense contractor uses enterprise network management services by collaborating with a network solution provider to gain network management insight and support.

Doss Aviation Inc., a privately owned defense contractor that specializes in flight training, aircraft maintenance, air traffic control and other airfield management services, needed the kind of enterprise network management support that would help the company meet intense security and uptime requirements. So, Doss turned to a solution provider for network monitoring services and other enterprise network management services that would ensure the network was performing at its best.

“The biggest part of our business is the flight screening process,” said Jamie Trujillo, director of IT for Doss Aviation. “We have software and services in place that ensure that all the records and management from the flight operation side goes into a central database and is managed by the IT department. Without that, we cannot fly the planes. If we can’t do that, we don’t get paid.”

Maintaining maximum uptime is what’s most important for Doss. “We don’t get downtime here. You never know when the next four-star general or government personnel is going to come in and say, ‘So, what’s my $22 million paying for right now?’ My window of downtime is less than an hour on most systems,” Trujillo added.

But Doss didn’t have substantial network monitoring and security technology in place since such technology was costly and implementation was strenuous. “We were paying about $43,000 per year for basically a replacement program. It was the old SMARTnet Cisco program, which we had from a different carrier at the time. If one of our Cisco devices died, we just called up Cisco for a replacement and they shipped it to us. It didn’t provide any configuration or engineering support, and didn’t help with installation. That task was left to me and my team. It was really a pain,” Trujillo said.

Enterprise network management services fill void

To handle the issues, Doss turned to Icon Integration, a Denver company that focuses on networking support, management and consulting services.

There were several factors in Trujillo’s decision to go with Icon. “The reason I decided to pull the trigger on the managed services portfolio was because as we grew as a business, IT growth did not keep pace. We became the roadblock. I am not going to let my department go down that road. We want to be innovators of the business, not follow-alongs,” Trujillo said.

Shahe Taleghani, president and CEO of Icon, explained how partnering with Cisco and basing the Icon SMART Managed Services on Cisco’s Smart Care Service has helped to build incremental foundation within Icon’s offerings to customers like Doss.

“We’re able to leverage Cisco’s intellectual property through specialized hardware that allows Icon to implement that technology into our customer’s environment, [and] essentially, monitor an infrastructure that previously had no monitoring or alerting services. We have the ability to activate or enable things once we are able to augment that service offering. We go into code, look at the health of the software, certain devices, whether certain services are enabled or shouldn’t be, security, etc.,” Taleghani said.

Network monitoring services implementation

Implementing Icon’s SMART Managed Services was fairly simple. Icon dropped in aCisco-owned rack mount server, which Icon uses as a monitoring tool. Icon has developed its SMART Managed Services around that tool. 

“A couple hours of configuration and we were on our way. Being a Cisco-branded device, it lives in perfect harmony with our Cisco equipment. However, we’ve been able to set up a partnership with Icon to allow them to give me engineering support with the devices we have that aren’t Cisco,” Trujillo added.

Icon’s services address both front-end and back-end issues. “The front-end piece is where Icon would go on-site with Doss, and we actually implement an appliance. This appliance is a central database of intelligence that is tied into Doss Aviation’s Cisco infrastructure. The back-end piece is the collaboration with the Smart Care Services portal. We have the ability to leverage an online collaborative portal of that front-end intelligence capturing tool,” Taleghani said.

Icon’s SMART Managed Services offers both on-premises and remote monitoring and management. “I have the best of both worlds. I have an on-premise box that I can look at, or I can turn that task over to the virtual engineers at Icon, which is about 90% of what we do because we trust their management and expertise,” Trujillo added.

Enterprise network management solution helps maintain compliance and network security

Security is a huge factor in Doss’ government-related work, and Icon is able to help address that need. “We have to deal with a security issue locally before we pass it on to Icon. Yet, as soon as that initial trouble ticket is filed here, the first thing I do is get on the phone with Icon. Most of the time, Icon already knows about the issue. We meet in the middle,” Trujillo said.

Icon also helps Doss with maintaining compliance and meeting privacy laws through conducting annual security and infrastructure audits. “This would begin with which area of compliance we need to address, and to what level of security precautions or awareness we need it implemented. There are ongoing areas of compliance that we have meetings about and address each area technologically through compliance standards,” Taleghani said.

Trujillo said that “Icon ensures that we are always compliant with best practices as well as federal regulations that we need to live up to, including FISMA, FOUO, etc. If one of my devices starts to act up and tells me, ‘You have a portal open on a firewall or a switch that’s doing a broadcast it shouldn’t do,’ Icon already knows about it. Their team can then grab me and work together to fix it.”

Network monitoring services save time and cost in the enterprise

For Icon, Cisco’s services offerings have decreased time to resolution by at least 20 to30%. “This had aided Icon’s ability in terms of engineering cost because not only does it assist with the incident triage perspective, but we are able to take a more proactive approach towards our customer’s network environment,” Taleghani said.

For Doss, these services have made a significant impact on time and cost savings. “Icon helped us to drop our bill from $43k to $31k per year. That allows me to do a lot more with my budget versus dealing with hardware replacement all the time, Trujillo said.

“As a defense contractor, with what’s going on at the federal level, cost is very important for us. I get an always-on engineer, which I didn’t have before, and a professional representative partnered with Cisco that allows me to not have to do things in-house. Icon watches the network for me so I don’t have to dedicate one of my staff members to do that all day. Instead of a one day turnaround period, I can have a two hour turnaround period.” Trujillo added.

In terms of productivity, using Icon's managed services has offered Doss' engineers the time to do projects that they haven’t been able to in the past. “We’ve been able to construct individual portals for departments within the business and support that with an appropriate staffing model,” Trujillo said.

In addition, using Icon’s SMART Managed Services hasn't required excessive training within Doss' IT department. If Doss does need any training, Icon brings in the necessary resources. The idea is that Doss doesn’t have to spend the time and money to train on-site staff. “We want to try and not burden our customers with the painful approach of a learning curve,” Taleghani said.

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