QinetiQ North America‘s Director of Network Services, Stephen Oronte spoke with WashingtonExec about the world of mobility in today’s world, including his role with QinetiQ, what he calls an “immaturity” in the mobile ecosystem, and upcoming challenges/threats.
WashingtonExec: How would you describe your role at QinetiQ North America?
Stephen Oronte: I’m the Director of Network Systems, which means I’m involved in sensor networking and mobility and the integration of these technologies into enterprise computing. This involves mobile sensor networks, ad hoc network environments and sensor integration. QinetiQ North America is a large provider of professional services, but we also design, engineer, and manufacture a number of diverse sensors. QinetiQ North America is a leader in advanced communications for sensor systems and various embedded and mobile devices. I spend a lot of time thinking about the communications models for these devices.
WashingtonExec: What do you think are the biggest threats to mobile security?
Stephen Oronte: There are many threats to mobile devices with the biggest part of the security problem being the immaturity of the mobile ecosystem. There is a lack of tools to adequately manage, monitor and obtain metrics for these devices. The fact that we are very early into this is the biggest threat, I think. Bring -your-own-device presents a challenge by expanding the diversity of operating systems and unique platform configurations. Securing new solutions models is also a challenge. I am interested in security in ad-hoc networks. Ad-hoc networking is different from the client-server models we use today. Currently, devices that you are communicating with have some established security model. You may have pre-shared keys and you’re using encryption, and you have a centralized authority for managing all of this, but in an ad-hoc environment you have an ecosystem where mobile devices establish communications with other devices in an ad-hoc manner, without a centralized authority. You need to establish trust, and they may not have the keys. This presents a challenge that many people are interested in solving. The value of mobile ad-hoc networking will drive adoption, but overall I think the biggest challenge is the fact that the mobile world is still an immature market.
“In five years, I think there is a big trend toward more mobility-based applications; meaning applications that are not being converted from their existing enterprise architecture to operate on a mobile platform, but applications that have been developed with mobility in mind, to operate in edge computing architectures, including a different network topology.”
WashingtonExec: What is the largest challenge for enterprises? Can you tell us about enterprise computing?
Stephen Oronte: I think the biggest challenge in enterprise computing as it relates to the mobility and sensor systems is the integration of these devices into the enterprise computing environment. Integrating increasingly complex mobile devices with well-established enterprise computing environments is one of the biggest challenges in enterprise computing going forward. I am speaking about a whole new set of devices, not just your phone, but other devices that could be embedded and/or mobile. Additionally, the number of network devices will present a challenge. A utility QNA has worked with is deploying automated meters that will grow an enterprise network from thousands of nodes to tens of millions. This is a big challenge.
WashingtonExec: Looking towards the future, what do you see as the next big trend in mobility? What will I be carrying around in five years?
Stephen Oronte: In five years, I think there is a big trend toward more mobility-based applications; meaning applications that are not being converted from their existing enterprise architecture to operate on a mobile platform, but applications that have been developed with mobility in mind, to operate in edge computing architectures, including a different network topology . In terms of features of what you carry around, I’ll tell you this. It will be a more powerful device. Your phone, as you know it now, will be an even more powerful computing device. It will be a router and have software capable of forming local networks with other similar devices. It will be a more complete communication device and have a very different software footprint.
WashingtonExec: What is your favorite app?
Stephen Oronte: I’ve got an app to follow professional cycling—a euro sport app where I spend too much time, particularly during season.
WashingtonExec: What is something that most people don’t know about you?
Stephen Oronte: You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I used to race bicycles.
WashingtonExec: Do you think we are doomed to mobile pilot programs or do you see us ever moving out of this space?
Stephen Oronte: Yes, I do actually. We will see progress incrementally. Technology often takes time. For example, I’ve been involved in the IPv6 world since the late ‘90s and we all thought it would happen on a certain timeline and it didn’t. ROI and value will drive change. The challenge of course is that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. For example, look at the network-centered warfighter efforts where billions of dollars were spent with less than spectacular results. New technology adoption, such as network-centric programs provide lessons learned for those of us looking at mobility. There is a lot of unglamorous work that must be done involving everything from standards, to cyber, to architectures. We need to make sure that we design for scale and extensibility so that we don’t find ourselves in a position where we are dealing with out-of-cycle upgrades and stove-piped situations. This will stifle innovation and can really crush the budget. The challenge of course is to make sure that we do this without wasting time and money.
WashingtonExec: Do you see the U.S. as a leader in mobile?
Stephen Oronte: We certainly have sufficient skill-set profiles to be a leader. We have a unique business environment. How industry and government work together will make a big difference. I think we have our challenges, but I don’t think we are going to be boxed out of the mobility space and I don’t think we are lagging behind. We are leading the charge in some places and in others I think we have a ways to go. You could throw a dart at any part of this system and find something that you wish was going differently. In the United States, we are well-positioned. We have capital markets, the technologies and we have the needs. We are not without challenges, but we are well-positioned.