Laying the foundation for future networks

DISA is establishing common architectures that the services can customize to their individual needs

In the ever-expanding world of defense networks, no Defense Department agency has more on its plate than the Defense Information Systems Agency. Ask for someone’s cloud computing strategy, and they respond that DISA is working that out. Inquire about network security, and you’re directed to DISA’s policy for security and encryption. Even the responsibility for e-mail systems is being shifted from the individual military services to DISA.

The agency is quickly becoming the go-to organization for all of DOD's network needs, and in this month’s issue, we explore the progress being made in some of those area. DISA’s most important responsibility is arguably bringing standardization to initiatives such as cloud computing by putting in place a common architecture that the various services can customize to their individual warfighting needs.

The key to standardization is collaboration because experience has shown that boundaries imposed from the outside on unsupportive users is bound to fail in time. Forge.mil is DISA’s family of services that support DOD’s developer community, and our special report on DISA explains how the agency is combining Forge.mil with social media so developers can keep track of one another’s work.

And in March, the 1105 Government Information Group and our sister publication Federal Computer Week presented the Federal 100 awards, which recognizes many who have made significant contributions to federal IT last year. Twenty of those 100 winners come from the defense sector.

One of them is Lt. Gen. William Lord, Air Force CIO and chief of warfighting integration, who is being honored for his support of departmentwide standards and efforts to build an aerial layer network that will support joint real-time communications at the tactical edge.

Another Federal 100 recipient is Kelly Miller, deputy CIO of the National Security Agency, who is working to align network environments among defense and intelligence agencies, and he is working to make sure intelligence properly supports deployed forces.

And there’s Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello, the Air Force’s program executive officer for combat and mission support, who is responsible for the Network-Centric Solutions-2 program — the Air Force’s contribution to the Global Information Grid, just like the Army’s contribution is LandWarNet — and is tasked with ensuring common data standards for the network.

Lord, Miller and Masiello manage the network’s big pipes, but the awards also recognize some who are ankle deep in the bits and bytes. One of those people is Rich Kutter, Air Force senior software protection engineer. Kutter was the lead developer for the lightweight portable security CD, which, along with a Common Access Card, lets users access their PCs on the network from any Intel-powered machine anywhere in the world.

Together, they are responsible for laying a foundation that won’t soon be yesterday’s stovepipe but will stand the test of time.

About the Author

Barry Rosenberg is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryDefense.

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