Communicating effectively, working together collaboratively, sharing data securely – most organisations face the same challenges regardless of complexity, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s probably why Interoperability is becoming the next watchword in enabling better, more seamless communications. But what are Interoperability Gateways, and how can you use them?

Interoperability Gateways can be virtual, physical or a combination of both, and can involve both tangible hardware and cloud-based software. Interoperability can mean many different things depending on the sector or needs of the organisation you work in. It might be a simple case of enabling someone on one floor of a building in speaking to a colleague on a different floor. At the other end of the spectrum, one nation using an IT system wants to speak to another nation on a different IT system where the security protectors, time zone, country regulations and language are all different.

Equally, when you communicate digitally you introduce the potential for a breach of that communication – so assuring the security of your gateway is a critical part of the process.

3 key steps to interoperability success

1. Establish requirements

The process should always start with a discussion of what the outcome should be, and this needs to be agreed at the highest level. For instance, does it align with the organisational strategy and security needs? There is always an element of risk that will need managing correctly.

You also need to consider what other systems and capabilities you need. For example, are there network or system architectural changes that will need designing, approving and implementing? Communication systems may need strengthening as connections must be functional, encrypted and in the right format, and these may need protecting with firewalls.

What level of compliance are you subject to? There will be some form of Governance that will need adhering to; this may be simply organisational but could also involve legislative requirements. Working internationally may complicate this further, so this will need to be taken into consideration when agreeing ways of working.

2. Assess security

Security will need to be fully assessed with elements such as Government safeguards, commercial sensitivity, and national and international security fully examined. Security requirements will need assuring and implementing as part of the risk mitigation process, and these should be incorporated into the architectural design and fully tested before being approved or accepted into service. Some form of overarching approval or accreditation may be needed before the two systems are officially connected.

3. Inform end users

The systems sit behind the scenes so most users won’t be aware of any change at all. But to work at its utmost Interoperability must become a mindset throughout the organisation. It’s vital that all stakeholders and users are fully informed and supportive of the updated ways of working in an interoperable collaborative environment.

The future of Interoperability Gateways

Originally developed to facilitate communication in challenging military environments, Interoperability Gateways are increasingly being implemented in non-Defence sectors with critical communication requirements, including Healthcare, Policing & Emergency Services, Financial services, retail and construction.

Interoperability systems enable secure and effective communication with little effort from the end user. They have the potential to establish connectivity between separate, often outdated technologies and with security at the heart of their design. Organisations can be confident that they have the best, most efficient systems in place, and that these will be fully protected from cyber attacks.

SA Group are trusted by the MoD, critical Public Sector clients and major Sporting venues to deliver Interoperability Gateway projects at the highest security levels. We use innovative military-grade technology to assure effective, on-time delivery and safeguard the integrity of your sensitive communications. Contact us for further information.


About the author

Owen Gudge is a Lead Consultant at SA Group with over 30 years’ experience designing, installing, operating and supporting complex, secure telecommunication systems and networks including critical Interoperability Gateways. He is a highly experienced, security cleared Telecommunications and Systems Engineer, having developed, implemented and improved strategic communication initiatives and programs within challenging MoD environments, along with providing governance and leading technical teams in support of business operations.