Travelers standing in long queue at TSA security checkpoint showing efficient network and application infrastructure

How Organizations Can Benefit From Thinking About Their Critical Application Infrastructure Like a TSA Security Line

In any modern, digital-centric organization, application and network infrastructure must work together to provide an application experience that is both fast and secure. Compromising on either means organizations simply can’t work with optimal efficiency, and in the worst-case scenarios, poorly performing application infrastructure can impact everything from user experience and customer satisfaction to cybersecurity.

Think of it this way: delivering a secure and efficient process that addresses the needs of each stakeholder group–from administrators to users–is akin to that seen in an effective Transportation Security Administration (TSA) line. From security and efficiency to performance, modern network and application infrastructure challenges are analogous to the methods employed by the TSA, and by extension, the good and bad experiences of travelers everywhere.

As the TSA themselves explain, their security screening processes are a “layered approach” designed to “prevent prohibited items and other threats to transportation security from entering the sterile area of the airport.” Get this right in both transport and technology scenarios, and every stakeholder can meet their objectives. Get it wrong, however, and the possibility for disruption, inefficiency and additional expense is never far away.

Optimizing crucial processes

Let’s consider a fairly typical TSA process. As each passenger moves down the line towards security, they have several booths in front of them and need – ideally – to get into the correct queue. If someone gets to the front and doesn’t have their passport or ticket, they can’t get through to the main security area because they lack proper authentication. Similarly, if the airport is very busy and perhaps doesn’t have sufficient resources, the result is the same – reduced performance and a bad user experience.

In application infrastructure and security terms, this is similar to the role played by load balancing, which should provide high performance and secure delivery of application workloads from a wide range of vendors in multiple sectors. Effective load balancers divide work requests and traffic amongst resources on real or virtual servers in a network. They employ algorithms and intelligent network monitoring technologies to deliver continuous health checks on servers, the aim being that no server on the network is overloaded beyond its capacity with work requests. Instead, servers receive equal, balanced work allocations, despite the fact that not all are created equal.

In both TSA and IT infrastructure scenarios, this stage of their respective processes brings various important components together for monitoring and checking. All these activities must be coordinated, or else the experience will be slow and inefficient. In today’s busy airports, for instance, everything from implementing the most crucial security rules to the efficiency of baggage and passenger checks plays a role. Experienced, highly trained staff are present to ensure the relevant ‘algorithms’ are followed to ensure efficiency and security.

Comparing this to tech infrastructure, today’s most effective IT infrastructure monitoring software solutions look at objects and devices in the network and report if there’s a problem. They tell IT staff about the status of everything connected to the network, monitoring a wide range of crucial factors, such as whether a service is on or off, or if the software on a particular server needs to be updated.

People in the airport are analogous to network traffic – they bring different types and sizes of bags, each with its own contents and potential risk factors. Network traffic monitoring solutions tell IT staff what’s going right and what’s going wrong as the flow of data moves through key stages of the overall process. In both circumstances, the objective is to optimize flow, which should be as fast, smooth and efficient as possible.

Improved network security through fast detection and response

For IT networks, the business benefit lies in finding and fixing problems fast. By providing teams with an instant view of what’s up and what’s down in all their environments (in the cloud, hybrid cloud, or on-premises), they can always maintain visibility and understand the status of network devices, systems and applications. For their counterparts in today’s airports, the TSA process utilizes its own ‘layered approach’ to get as many people as possible onto their flights, but as securely as possible based on an understanding of how each step in the process is performing.

Whether the focus is on tech-centric application experience or real-world situations, organizations everywhere must balance the expectations, overall experience, and requirements of their stakeholder groups against the need to ensure highly effective security. Putting the right people, processes, and technologies in place can have a transformative impact on the ability of organizations to deliver an exceptional application experience in an era where performance has never been more important.


Director, Product Marketing at Progress