Dell Adds Security To Virtualized Government Environments

New desktop virtualization products support federal telework, security, and mobility goals.

Patience Wait, Contributor

August 21, 2012

3 Min Read

Dell is introducing new desktop virtualization solutions (DVS) designed specifically for government customers, intended to facilitate telework and manage security challenges unique to government users. The introduction of these products for the government space is part of Dell's broader virtualization announcement.

"We've seen a lot of challenges in the government space in end user computing," said Erica Hilgeman, Dell's marketing director for public space end user solutions. "A lot of agencies are being asked to support networks [while] contending with geographic sprawl, here, there, and everywhere, with dwindling IT resources."

The advent of users' personal mobile devices, the drive to encourage telework, federal mandates on security, data center consolidation, and budget crunches all push toward increasing use of virtualization, Hilgeman said.

To address government customers' needs, the company created two predefined virtualization products specifically designed with security and mobility in mind, she said.

Dell worked with ActivIdentity to incorporate control access card (CAC) dual-authentication capabilities into both DVS products. "It's kind of a must-have for so many of our customers, we thought we'd take a few steps out of the [setup] process," Hilgeman said.

[ Amid flat IT budgets, government tech teams are focused on establishing a solid, secure foundation. See Cybersecurity Tops Federal IT Priorities List. ]

Collaborating with AppSense, the company also built in "context-aware security," giving administrators the tools to set highly specific security rules, "where a user can access things from the third floor but not the fourth floor, at the office but not home, on one device but not another," she said. "We allow agencies to recreate physical-use policies in the virtual world."

The DVS-Gov Simplified appliance is designed for smaller locations, using the Dell server platform and Citrix VDI-in-a-Box, a turnkey virtual desktop infrastructure for sites without a lot of specialized expertise in house, Hilgeman said. All data stays on the server, and images, keystrokes, and mouse clicks are encrypted at either end.

The second, DVS-Gov Enterprise, is geared toward larger agencies with multiple locations, and can support from 50 to 50,000 end users "without a forklift solution," Hilgeman said. It's designed for both modularity in capabilities and expansion to serve new locations.

Dell spent over 50,000 hours creating integrated solution stacks, testing combinations and permutations of servers, storage, networking, and so forth, to optimize performance and validate that everything works together, she said. The modular architecture of the enterprise solution allows adaptation to legacy environments, so customers can keep those parts of existing IT infrastructure they don't want to change.

"What if you use a different networking product than on our systems, or excess storage capacity, so you don't need the whole stack? If ... it meets [our] performance criteria, we'll certify and support it," she said.

Both solutions are compliant with basic federal requirements, such as IPv6, EnergyStar, Trade Agreement Act provisions, and ADA accessibility.

"One of the things that we really anticipate is the ability for this to drive and enable telework programs," Hilgeman said. "There are a lot of agencies that aren't really sure how to enable that ... having that capability to provide context-aware security is going to be really key. We also think this is really a key part of [continuity of operations plans].

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Patience Wait


Washington-based Patience Wait contributes articles about government IT to InformationWeek.

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