Successfully Managing HF Radio Networks

With the potential for new technologies to cause interference to traditional communications networks and even space itself at the risk of becoming weaponised, it is important to make sure that you always have a backup plan for your communications ready and waiting.

Should the worst happen and your primary network, typically SatCom, go down you need to ensure that you can still communicate with your forces wherever they are, and that communication needs to be fast,  simple and reliable. It also needs to be suitable for operation within degraded and denied environments.

That’s where HF Radio has a distinct advantage, utilising the ionosphere itself to relay communications and long-range radio signals. If you’re interested you can read more about the benefits of communications over HF Radio and how Isode is developing HF technology here.

When implementing new technologies, one of the challenges you can always expect to face is how you manage them and control how the important systems connect with one another. For HF Radio, that has always been a factor limiting its deployment, how do you ensure that mobile units remain connected to your HF network as they move from one location to the next?

This can now be done by our latest HF Radio enhancement product, Icon Topo. 

Icon Topo is a state of the art, web-based management system for HF Radio networks. The management system allows an operator to monitor and control the location of Mobile Units such as ships or aircraft, ensuring that as they move from one HF Access Point to another they can remain connected to your communications network.

The Icon Topo system allows you to manage your Mobile Units across multiple HF Networks, and plan a connection route for them as they do so, all from an easy forms-based interface. Removing any interruptions to service or downtime from applications as the MU moves across its intended path.

You can read more on Icon Topo here.

Alongside our HF management system, we have also recently developed our Red/Black solution to manage encrypted data over HF networks.

Red/Black is a Web-based server that can provide control and monitoring of different devices and servers. This is intended to complement, not replace, primary device management tools. Red/Black servers can operate in a pair, to monitor and control devices across a secure boundary.

Our Red/Black servers are designed to support HF radio systems through the display and management of communication chains, as seen below. They allow separation of, and passage for encrypted information across restricted networks from a ‘high’ side to a ‘low’ side. 

You can read more about our Red/Black solution here

The above two products give you full oversight over your HF networks so that you can be confident you will retain complete control over what gets to connect to your HF network and how exactly they do it.

If you’d like more information on our HF products, or are interested in a product demo then get in touch with us on sales@isode.com, alternatively you can fill out a contact form on our website and one of our team will get back to you.

Draft, Review & Release

This week we are excited to announce the release of Harrier 3.1 and Cobalt 1.1.

These releases are an important step for our Draft, Review & Release Solution, a capability of particular interest within Military Deployments.

Draft and Release is a process of handling formal military communication, it is vital for scenarios where formal responsibility must be taken for messages sent. For example, Military commands sent as messages needing to be approved/released by an appropriate senior officer. More information on this can be found in our recently updated whitepaper.

This latest release of Harrier provides a new, simple and intuitive UI for drafters, reviewers, and releasers, making each task straightforward. Also included is a visual workflow, allowing easy tracking of messages.

There will be situations where it makes sense to send directly and to avoid any workflow. Cobalt allows simple control of users who can send directly for selected messages based on SIC and Priority.

Cobalt provides a range of capabilities to support Formal Military Message Handling Systems (MMHS), with capabilities oriented towards the support of systems using Isode’s Harrier, M-Box, and M-Switch products.

Downloads and accompanying release notes can be found in the evaluator and customer sections of the website.

HF for more than just messaging

Over the last two years, Isode has been working alongside other HF experts to update STANAG 5066 from edition 3 to 4, motivated by the need to keep this vital standard current with the latest messaging developments.

One particular area of interest for Isode is enabling TCP applications to perform efficiently over HF links and our CEO, Steve Kille, gave a presentation in this area at the most recent HFIA meeting back in March. You can find a PDF of the presentation, ‘Web Browsing over HF’, here.

In an ideal world all mission-critical applications would take advantage of specific optimized protocols for HF but, as it’s impractical to do this for every service, having mechanisms to support generic services that run over IP in high-speed networks is necessary.

To provide IP services over HF in a reasonably efficient manner, a central challenge is to provide a mechanism to support TCP-based applications efficiently. This can be done with a TCP PEP (Performance Enhancing Proxy), such as our recently announced Icon-PEP product.  Icon-PEP product enables deployment of IP Applications over an HF network using STANAG 5066 link layer as the interface to that network. More information can be found on the Icon-PEP product page.

Isode Military Capabilities at DSEI 2021

DSEI is the premier showcase for military technology of all types. Held every other year, DSEI attracts one the largest international audiences, with over 75,000 visitors from 114 countries at DSEI 2019.

Isode will be displaying a number of unique capabilities at DSEI 2021, which you can see on our stand on the UK Pavilion, including:

Military Email

Isode’s end-to-end solution fronted by Harrier, our web based military messaging client, and including message servers and gateways covering all of the major military messaging standards.

Harrier military mail client compose Screen
Isode Harrier Web-based Email Client for Military Messaging supports the draft and release process to support formal release and approval of messages by an appropriate officer.

Military Instant Messaging

Instant messaging, using the XMPP standard, is an increasingly important component of military communications systems. Isode clients, servers and gateways allow XMPP traffic over standard and constrained (SatCom/HF) links a s well as between XMPP and legacy instant messaging systems such as IRC, all of which can be controlled using Isode’s extensive security labelling infrastructure.

At DSEI 2021 we will be giving the first public demonstration of the web version of our Swift XMPP Client.

You can find more information on Isode’s products set for Military Messaging and Military Instant Messaging by following the links.

Isode Military Messaging and Military Instant Messaging products have been successfully deployed with the land, air and naval forces of over 30 countries.

The Isode pre-sales team has expanded

We’re pleased to announce a new addition to the Isode family, Chris Marshall, who joined our pre-sales team earlier this year.

Photo of Chris Marshall

Chris has a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Wolverhampton and over 30 years of experience in the IT sector. He is a keen traveler, recently exploring the USA with his family for a month. During his free time enjoys racing his laser dinghy at the local sailing club.

Chris joins us from an Isode partner, where he spent 20 years supporting customers in large, highly secure organisations around the world with their messaging projects. He is familiar with Isode software and has wasted no time getting stuck in providing support to our customers.

Welcome to the team Chris.

Taking a Stand at DSEI 2021

For the first time, Isode will be taking a stand in independent capacity, for DSEI 2021.

DSEI is the premier showcase for military technology of all types. Held every other year, DSEI attracts one the largest international audiences, with over 75,000 visitors from 114 countries at DSEI 2019.

We have attended DSEI for a number of years but always in support of demonstrations, by our valued partners, of their solutions for military messaging.

This year, we are joining over 1000 exhibitors in taking our own stand at DSEI.

Isode staff on exhibition booth
Jon Purvis, Hannah George and Jeff Tillotson on the Isode exhibition stand.

As well as enabling us to provide on-site support of demonstrations by partner companies, this will also provide a central point for showcasing Isode’s unique capabilities in secure messaging and instant messaging to the many key decision makers who regularly attend DESI.

Isode messaging and instant messaging solutions are now deployed with the land, air and naval forces of over 30 countries.

You’ll find Isode on the UK Pavilion at DSEI, which will be held at the ExCel Centre, London on 14-17 September 2021.

Isode at NITEC19

NITEC is the NCI Agency’s flagship annual industry conference, focusing on advancing technological solutions and business practices to strengthen NATO operations. This year’s NITEC was held in the Norwegian capital of Oslo between 20 and 22 May.

A regular visitor to NITEC, Isode spent three enjoyable days at this year’s show demonstrating our software for chat and email messaging to an audience of systems integrators, technical influencers and representatives of end-user organisations (the militaries of NATO nations).

Isode’s Louise Hill (Pre-Sales Engineer) and Jeff Tillotson (Business Development Manager: Defence) setting up the Isode stand.

Of particular interest to visitors was Isode’s ability to connect different services, employing different chat and messaging standards, so that they become seamless end-to-end systems. Our demonstration of connecting XMPP based chat systems to those employing the legacy IRC system (using Isode’s M-Link IRC Gateway) was particularly popular.

Both chat and messaging demonstrations also featured security label translation, mapping labelled messages from one security domain to another (for the show we used Norwegian and NATO labels on the different “sides” of the messaging/chat systems).

Evaluation software for both Email Messaging and XMPP Chat software is available from the Isode website.

Isode and Civil Aviation Messaging

This year marked the 15th anniversary of Isode’s entry into the civil aviation market, when we started to supply messaging servers and APIs into the AMHS (Air Traffic Services (ATS) Message Handling Services) market via our solution partners, helping those partners to deliver great AMHS based solutions to their Civil Aviation Authority customers.

Since then over 100 countries have installed AMHS systems based around Isode messaging servers, with more sales on the way this year as new countries switch from the old AFTN system or expand their existing AMHS installations to encompass regional airports and hubs.

At the recent World ATC Congress in Madrid, as well as taking a look at all of the new developments in this vibrant market, we spent some time visiting and thanking those partners for the excellent working relationship we’ve enjoyed over the years. It was comforting to see that our partners are as enthusiastic about this market now as they were when we first met them.

Steve at HFIA

Earlier this month the High Frequency Industry Association (HFIA) held their first meeting of 2019 in San Diego.  Isode CEO, Steve Kille, attended and gave three presentations at the meeting.

The first looked at measurements of HF Modem transmissions over a channel simulator using Collins modems and simulator.  It investigates the impact of varying Interleavers for STANAG 4539 and STANAG 5069 waveforms. This presentation can be found here.

The second presentation was an overview of two whitepapers we recently published on the Isode website, Messaging Protocols for HF Radio and Measuring Performance of Messaging Protocols for HF Radio.

The final presentation gave results from an XMPP over HF trial funded by the UK MoD. The trial was carried out by Babcock, using Isode XMPP software, to evaluate the viability of providing a real time chat service for Naval and Airborne communications over HF.

Oracle Java and Isode Products

Some components of release R17.0 are written in Java. You should install any Java dependencies before installing the following components of the Isode packages:

  • Sodium
  • M-Vault Console
  • Log Configuration
  • Isode Service Configuration
  • MConsole
  • M-Link Console
  • Web applications

If you do not require these components then you do not need to install Java.

Oracle has announced that Java updates for commercial customers ends after January 2019. See(https://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/java-se-support-roadmap.html ).

For R17.0v7 and later, Isode recommend commercial users of Java who do not wish to purchase support from Oracle, to use Isode’s “OpenJDK for Isode” package instead. This is available from www.isode.com This contains a copy of the OpenJDK (see http://jdk.java.net) which has been tested for compatibility with R17.0, and is fully supported for use by Isode applications.

Isode will not be updating versions prior to R17.0 to work with Java 11. Commercial users using these releases will have the following options:

  • Upgrade to R17.0
  • Run with a version of Oracle Java 8 which will, after January 2019, no longer receive updates from Oracle
  • Obtain a suitable commercial license from Oracle for a supported version of Oracle Java 8 (which will receive updates after January 2019)

Isode R17.0 is supported with Oracle Java 8 and Oracle Java 11. A future version of Isode will remove support for Java 8.

After Java 8, the next LTS (Long-Term-Support) version of Oracle Java is Oracle Java 11. Commercial users of Oracle Java 11 are required to purchase a license from Oracle.

Commercial users may purchase extended support for Oracle Java 8 if they wish to deploy it after January 2019.