Safeguarding against the potential cyber threat landscape
A notable registered higher education provider chose Outcomex to help them build a solution to enable the creation of a state-of-the-art Training Cyber Security Operations Centre (TCSOC) as part of their initiative to offer a new cyber security curriculum.
Outcomex implemented the foundational infrastructure for the TCSOC to be built upon, which provides the building block that allows the education provider to utilise other complementary hardware and software solutions effectively. This, in turn, creates the perfect environment for students to engage in both classroom and virtual learning. This foundation layer, which is built upon Cisco’s Hyperflex Hyperconverged Infrastructure with Cisco Nexus top of rack switching, provides the required virtualisation using a single platform to deliver both compute and storage resources while also delivering simplified management and single vendor support for both the hardware and software.
Cisco’s Hyperflex extends on the proven Unified Computing System (UCS) by adding in software defined storage to deliver a high performing and reliable hyperconverged platform based on a validated design architecture.
Our client is a vocational education and training provider, delivering training to multiple locations across Australia. The vocational education provider offers hundreds of courses with thousands of local and international student enrolments yearly. As a registered higher education provider, they offer courses that cover more than 80 areas of industry and activity, delivering relevant, high-quality training that opens up doors of opportunities to their graduates, who find jobs within their field of training.
The higher education provider required a secure platform to enable them to deliver their Cyber Security Training Centre to both internal and external (online) students, with future-proofing to allow for enhanced productivity and performance of the platform itself. They wanted a self-contained platform that would provide their students with a secure space to conduct a series of penetration tests over the internet and within the lab to break through various firewalls, with the aim of students forming two teams to compete against each other within the cyber security platform which simulates real-life cyber security events.
Outcomex assisted with the implementation of a solution to aid the higher education provider with the creation of a state-of-the-art TCSOC. We provided a foundational layer upon which a secure simulated platform could be created for their TCSOC. This foundational layer is based upon Cisco’s Hyperflex hyperconverged platform with Cisco Nexus top of rack switching in order to help the higher education provider meet their main requirement: Providing their students with secure access to a TCSOC where students can compete against each other and engage in virtual learning across the education provider’s cyber network.
We implemented Cisco’s HyperFlex, which is the next generation of Hyperconverged Infrastructure which unifies compute, storage, and networking into a single solution. HyperFlex is engineered on Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and the HX Data Platform, which is a high-performance, flash optimised distributed file system that delivers a wide range of enterprise-grade data management and optimisation services.
The software innovations in the HX Data Platform allow for independent scaling of compute, caching, and capacity, providing full flexibility to scale the environment based on evolving business needs. The HX Data Platform is designed to support multiple hypervisors, containers, and bare metal to power existing and new cloud-native workloads.
Cisco HyperFlex also provides a unified pool of resources to power applications quickly as the higher education provider grows. Resources can be harnessed with simplified and integrated centralised management, enabling them to deploy this solution wherever they need it – from central data centre environments, to remote locations and edge-computing environments. The implementation of this infrastructure eliminates performance bottlenecks while achieving high input/output performance.
Cisco’s HyperFlex Edge cluster, which is responsible for housing the virtual server workloads as well as virtualised network and security infrastructure, was interconnected through a pair of Cisco’s Nexus 9000 switches, which provides a low latency network, ideally suited to handle both storage and network traffic. This allows users to access the platform across multiple locations while giving admin the ability to monitor, access, interact and control with the project environment (the platform) itself.
Outcomex successfully implemented a virtual server, the foundational layer, for the higher education provider cyber security curriculum to aid them in creating a state-of-the-art TCSOC for their cyber security curriculum. This server allows for multiple project environments, with each project completely isolated from each other, while ensuring new guests (servers, clients, network appliances, etc.) can be added. This means that the project environment is easily accessible for students, with access via a terminal server allowing them to connect to a jump host, which is connected to both the internal project network and the external project network.
Students can now connect remotely using a Cisco VPN, ideal for external students to take part in the cyber security course. Lecturers now have the ‘next level of teaching’ on hand with the ability to start, stop and shutdown a project. They also have the option to allow internet access to project environments, while having the ability to create new project environments for future requirements.
Through the solution we provided, combined with the additional complementary hardware and software solutions, the higher education provider can now enable their students to learn in new, creative, and unique ways, providing them with an environment where they can gain first-hand experience in the cyber security space.
This new curriculum not only improves the quality of the education that the higher education provider offers by giving student real-world experience, but it also ensures that their students are at the forefront of innovation, making them more than ready when they enter the workforce.