Strengthening Ecuador’s Defense: Securing Critical Data
In Ecuador, the navy, air force, and army all work independently, but our goal is the same: to protect national security. Now more than ever, that protection depends on keeping data safe and secure.
In my 35 years with Fuerza Aárea Ecuatoriana (FAE), the Ecuadorian Air Force, I have witnessed several transformations, most notably in information hosting. Since I started my career as an officer at FAE, I have always focused on information technology, pushing our efforts to safeguard information and security systems. Today, as a colonel and director of IT, I have the opportunity to correct some of our previous mistakes and make significant improvements along the way.
One of the areas I have had the chance to oversee has been the refresh of our infrastructure. In the early days of my tenure, we didn’t have so much sensitive information on our servers, and cyber attacks did not pose such a great threat. Today, however, we see the necessity for greater control over our data. FAE needed more automation and protection against cybersecurity threats, leading us to search for solutions to help us in these areas.
A Thorough Review Led to a Leading Partner
To find these solutions, I thoroughly studied all technologies on the market with the capabilities to support our operational needs. This study included looking at other government agencies with similar requirements to see what they had in place. Besides more robust security, I became convinced that to better protect our data, we needed to change how we structure the information itself. And as I learned more about how data structures have evolved, I concluded that hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) was the best way forward.
HPE stood out for its compute performance, data security and hyperconvergence capabilities. Additionally, I had experience with a previous HPE solution that had never failed, which gave me the confidence I was making a well-informed decision in working with them again. Specifically, the HPE ProLiant servers promised to enhance not only our security, but also memory, speed, management, data protection, and backup capabilities leveraging HPE SimpliVity and HPE storage innovations.
The research and evaluation of solutions part of this project actually started several years ago. We had no assigned budget in the FAE for this kind of project, so it took some time and effort to present all the solutions and the benefits to demonstrate our need and get a budget. Then, once the budget was approved and we started designing the plan, the pandemic set us back. It took a long time to start the project due to these circumstances, but once the ball got rolling, it rolled quickly. Once we had the equipment on site, it took only about 30 days to get everything in place and begin migrating the data and workloads.
The complex operations of the air force combined with the sensitive information we handle made the data migration the trickiest part of the entire project. Throughout it all, we received support from the HPE Services team. From design and implementation through the data migration and ongoing support, we have received frequent visits from their onsite engineers—and these support services have been instrumental in this project.
Changes That Impact IT and End Users
Our new solution supports 42 applications. These include the heart of all FAE operations, such as intelligence onboard aircrafts and aircraft maintenance, as well as supply chains, cargo, and availability. We also host critical employee information, such as payroll, correspondence, and medical records. Operational data and processes like air traffic are also constantly updated. This information is highly sensitive, and we are now confident that it is secure.
With HPE ProLiant servers, we have seen a huge transformation in memory, security, and speed. With approximately 35000 IOPS, we have been able to improve the performance of web applications by 100%. FAE’s PostgreSQL current database has improved its performance by 90% due to the high speed of information access across transactional data, and we can currently cover all requirements and future needs, allowing us to project our growth to 20%.
HPE SimpliVity has also allowed us to improve the performance in unified communications by nearly 80%, as we have higher speed with the channel data than the entity has. With the bandwidth of the ports of 10GbE, stacking has been carried out in the ports reaching 20GbE of speed, having a considerable increase in access to information. HPE SimpliVity has also helped us use NIC teaming to increase network capacity.
Our new technology has simplified administration by 60%. It can support automated processes, simplifying the time we dedicate to administrative and support tasks, thus optimizing our workforce. We are also more efficient in our use of physical space, eliminating our previous bulky solutions in favor of HPE’s more flexible, all-in-one technology. Before, we had no way to improve these areas, but with HPE ProLiant servers and HPE SimpliVity, we have a much more robust, resilient infrastructure with greater possibilities as our needs change.
We have also improved our backup and data protection capabilities and secured them in another location. With constant backups, we are always able to access information. In addition to enhanced security and control of the data, we have more redundancy. And because we have access to the latest firmware and updates, we have experienced zero system outages. Even when other government agencies have faced cyber attacks, the air force has remained untouched because our infrastructure keeps us secure.
Backend improvements often happen with no effect on the frontend user. They might not even be aware of any changes. With this project, however, frontend users also feel these improvements. For example, we used to experience data loss after people input data into the system. We would then have to request that they return weeks later to input the data again, which took longer and negatively impacted operations. That doesn’t happen anymore due to the data integrity of the system.
System administrators can now monitor the entire solution in less time. Easy and seamless infrastructure management has also removed the fear of technological growth from the organization. People are more willing to take chances on new technology that will help us better allocate and distribute our resources. It has been a complete transformation from before to now, impacting operations and how people within the air force view technology.
Digital Transformation Begins with Compute
Without HPE solutions and HPE Services, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We continue to rely on HPE Services as we evaluate an expansion for the solution in another city.
It was critical that this project be a success. It required collaboration from all parties and everyone had to be in sync to provide an accurate scope and walk us through a flawless implementation. We got everything we needed by working with HPE. HPE technology has enabled a vision for the future that FAE did not have before, and has pushed the needle further toward a more complete digital transformation.