By Todd Lizambri, Vice President of Software Engineering
Software development, satellite communications, and the pursuit of a fully managed, end-to-end system. Let's delve in!
Whether your organization seeks enhanced visibility of your satellite terminal performance and usage, or you are looking to increase resilience during periods of network congestion, the design and development of software can play a pivotal role in fulfilling your mission-critical needs. Our mission? To be your partner in transforming satellite communications into a responsive, resilient, and intelligent service – in all stages of the development lifecycle.
This posting explores elements that contribute to achieving an end-to-end managed system – allowing you to maintain control while alleviating the burdens associated with its intricate design, deployment, and maintenance…
SATCOM Management: From Enterprise ERP to Tactical Terminal
While automation is not one size fits all, engineered software systems have the potential to automate and streamline the entire process of provisioning satellite terminals. For the U.S. Space Force (USSF), software development acts as a key component in modernized mission planning, provisioning of terminals, and making global communications more resilient against adversaries. However, the concept of remote terminal management and access extends its appeal beyond the defense sector.
Throughout the process of building end-to-end capabilities for terminal management and control for various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, government agencies, and our own SATCOM-managed networks, our team has been required to design a broad and comprehensive set of requirements. In today’s business landscape, achieving operational efficiency and ensuring reliable communications are top priorities for enterprises of all sizes. For tactical, more specialized management, leveraging advanced automation and analytics has become paramount. This allows for not only streamlined terminal configuration and monitoring but also empowers timely decision-making through predictive insights.
The right software solution is truly the linchpin for finely tuned and customized SATCOM management.
Source of Truth in the Enterprise
End-to-end management begins with having reliable and comprehensive data on your SATCOM inventory. It is critical to understand the resources an enterprise has deployed and the capabilities that they bring to the table. This knowledge will empower us to harness new services and unlock the potential for future advancements.
Many enterprises have evolved to “segmented” databases, meaning resource management becomes fragmented between various groups within the organization. Acquisition, engineering/planning, operations, and support all seem to have their own system of record for the SATCOM equipment and their capabilities. Many of these records are documented using legacy applications, spreadsheets, and printed documentation. This leads to difficulty reconciling the information and prevents machine-to-machine interfaces to enable automation and consistent reporting between these organizational boundaries.
At Network Innovations U.S. Government, we begin with a solid foundation for the data – with fast, reliable, flexible repositories of information that capture your SATCOM requirements and resources in addition to the performance and capability of your technologies. These core “registries” of information allow seamless integration of the business systems to management SATCOM within the enterprise, providing easy-to-use interfaces for data entry alongside powerful APIs for machine-to-machine automation and integration with existing systems. From SATCOM service allocation and provisioning to situational awareness and operational control, these foundational “single source of truth” registries provide a foundation for accurate reporting and management of the end-to-end solution.
At the Edge
Registries provide the foundation of end-to-end management with reliable data on the requirements, resources, and allocation of services. However, it’s the edge that delivers the service and critical information to assess the performance, situational awareness, and level of service delivered.
Our approach to management at the edge compliments other solutions that rely on the hub to provide management features and situational awareness. With a software agent running on a low-cost single-board computer or embedded in an edge device (such as a modem or a piece of baseband equipment), we enable secure communications back to the enterprise for “remote hands” into the SATCOM terminal. Management at the edge then enables these resources to be provisioned with services “across” multiple networks, even leveraging different technologies – multi-vendor, multi-orbit, and multi-band.
With secure out-of-band communications back to the enterprise, terminals can be remotely reconfigured to re-establish communications when primary wideband connections are lost, congested, or compromised. In addition to active management of the edge terminal, the reach back provides critical situational awareness of the performance of the edge network and equipment that in many cases, the hub cannot provide.
With management software at the edge, the enterprise has more control and visibility into the network from end to end.
Extensible & Future-Proof
The SATCOM technology landscape is quickly evolving to provide higher speeds, more reliability, and increased coverage to areas that have not been serviced well in the past. These new technologies are made available through new entrants into the market and with new technology upgrades to existing hardware. When upgrades and new equipment are incompatible with your existing system, it’s critical that the management and control of your SATCOM infrastructure are not jeopardized or weakened by blind spots.
Our team has architected a system that mitigates this risk, with a collection of device drivers customized for equipment upgrades that extend the management system to support the latest technologies. It can also be upgraded as technology evolves. These device drivers have the intelligence to configure and status any type of SATCOM hardware device. They “plug-n-play” with our core edge technology to ensure the delivery of an extensible, future-proof solution.
Extending “management at the edge” to support new technologies can be accomplished with a new device driver downloaded over the air. This protects your investment in SATCOM management and control, allowing the enterprise to stay current with technology and leverage new features as they become available.
Software development for DoD programs and satellites demands continual innovation. It’s a complex field that requires specialized knowledge and expertise. At Network Innovations US Government, we’re a partner in all stages of development:
Quoted from the last blog in this series, “Satellite operators want to experience the full potential of their solutions, capitalize on all available features, and see the advantages of information dominance.” To achieve this, each stage is critical in building resilient software with a spectrum of capabilities. It’s equally as important to keep pace with the latest advancements not only in technology but also in methodologies.
Up Next – Advancing Satellite Software Development: A Scalable & Cloud-Native Architecture
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