Dell Technologies today announced a new end-to-end zero trust security solution – dubbed Project Fort Zero – for global organizations to protect against cyberattacks.

The new solution – unveiled at Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas on May 23 – will be validated by the Department of Defense (DoD) and available to public and private sector organizations within the next 12 months.

Dell Technologies has been busy at work conducting zero trust solutions for both the private and public-sector and paving the way to adoption.

In October, the tech giant announced the establishment of a new Zero Trust Center of Excellence. Last month, Dell announced the creation of a zero trust ecosystem – a network of more than 30 leading technology and security companies. Today, the company unveiled Project Fort Zero.

To achieve validation, a government assessment team will evaluate the Project Fort Zero solution for advanced maturity accreditation and certify compliance against the DoD’s Zero Trust Reference Architecture. The company is entering that assessment phase this summer, with hopes of offering the zero trust solution to organizations within 12 months.

MeriTalk sat down with Dell Industry Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Government, Herb Kelsey, to get the rundown on how Project Fort Zero came to be, the importance of collaboration when working on a global zero trust solution, and how industry is inviting the project with open arms.

MeriTalk: Tell me just a tiny bit about the whole project.

Kelsey: The project is one where, based on interactions with the government, they asked us if we could help them accelerate their adoption of zero trust. And we said yes, and what that has entailed is us essentially being a trusted observer, as they have built an advanced zero trust system themselves. We are essentially replicating that to create a commercial version of it so that they – and other public- and private-sector organizations – can consume it.

We’ve been going through a set of milestones – which was to design, build, and then get the system tested and assessed, and that’s the phase that we’re in now. We’re going into that assessment phase – that should take place this summer – and then we will have a solution that the government and other entities can consume.

MeriTalk: How long have you been trying to get the ecosystem together?

Kelsey: This has been approximately a year and a half effort. One of the reasons why the government was interested in interacting with us, is the fact that the majority of our Zero Trust ecosystem partners are already deeply entwined with Dell – whether it’s Intel or NVIDIA that ships with our equipment. Whether it’s other companies like Trend Micro or Gigamon, where some of them are using us as an appliance.

As we flushed out this idea with the government, one of the selling points, or one of the value propositions that Dell had, is the fact that we had deep relationships with many of these partners already.

MeriTalk: The way that you, in the ecosystem, look at it, you really need that big group of companies working on it, right?

Kelsey: When you start to look at that as the new benchmark for success, and then you look at the sophistication of the DoD architecture and the 45 capabilities that they spell out, the 152 tasks that they put in front of us to meet advanced zero trust, no single company in their technology inventory can meet that need. No single company can do that. So hence the ecosystem. Hence, pulling together all of these different parties to build an integrated system.

The DoD has published two versions of a reference architecture, which we’ve been closely aligned with for over a year and a half … So, our objective over the last year and a half, we announced the Center of Excellence in October, the ecosystem just recently – but since the beginning, we’ve been focused on the work that the DoD has done to support the architecture and construction of the system.

MeriTalk: Any comment you want to give on how their private sector uptake is?

Kelsey: We’re seeing, as we do have conversations with private sector companies, we are seeing just as strong interest in what we are doing as we do from the government. That would largely be with companies that are in the regulated industries or critical infrastructure that CISA and DHS have defined, but across those sectors, we’re seeing very strong interest.

I would speculate largely because they’re seeing fellow industry mates have problems. The Colonial Pipeline incident was pretty significant for people in that sector in the energy sector. I think we’re seeing the same kind of concerns across that critical infrastructure. So, the demand signals that we’re getting from the private sector are just as strong as what we’re seeing from the government.

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