Joint networking can help drive IT efficiency: Pollett
Culture, budget struggles and efficiency among top problems enterprise efforts aim to solve
The Army is taking a multipronged approach to closing information gaps between coalition partners, with the efforts going well beyond enterprise e-mail – and the challenges more than just technical difficulties.
Aside from acquiring the latest technology, the Army must also deal with familiar foes in the form of budget-squeezing and cultural hurdles, according to Lt. Gen. Carroll Pollett, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency. Pollett spoke Aug. 25 at the LandWarNet 2011 conference in Tampa, Fla. He stressed the need to bring together capabilities into a common operational environment for sharing information and collaborating.
“The point is, how do we [best] use those dollars that have been established for the operational and strategic levels? Those are the things we are working in order to redefine our resource models – because frankly, right now the resource models do not complement innovation or initiative in terms of bringing this kind of convergence and technology together,” Pollett said.
He highlighted one promising program that he hopes will spur the continuing transformation of Defense Department IT network strategies: the Joint Enterprise Network/Joint Information Environment.
“The JEN is something that the Army, AFRICOM and EUCOM have come together on to partner and look at how we can create a global information environment. We’re using it as a methodology, as a proof of principle, to look at how to converge transport, data architecture and security so that we can get to more capacity,” Pollett said. “We think we can gain efficiencies. This is a huge effort that I think it will free up dollars that the Army will be able to focus on the tactical edge.”
The efforts are undertaken in tandem with departmentwide moves in cyberspace and enterprise e-mail, and Pollett acknowledged the struggles in taking on so many major initiatives at once.
“We’re in the middle of doing cyber command and control exercises … we’re trying to find out how this new domain plays in the command and control process, and how we can be effective in fighting in the cyber architecture.,” Pollett said.
He also acknowledged the spotlight on the Army’s high-profile enterprise e-mail program.
“Everybody focuses on enterprise e-mail; to me it’s a service and it’s important in terms of the capability it provides to a user. But that’s not the focus of what we’re trying to do – it’s what’s behind the curtain. We’re trying to address this crazy environment of active directories; trying to address these issues with authoritative identity source that allows us to protect your identity, so no matter where you go in the world, we know who you are, you’re trusted and you can engage with leaders to make decisions,” he said. “We’re trying to reshape and synchronize this environment so it’s transparent to the user. And that’s what’s hard.”
The biggest hurdle of all, though, is related to the people involved in the process, Pollett said.
“Fundamentally, our biggest problem is culture … we have to get focused on the fact that it’s OK to change and it’s OK do things differently. For the first time in my 37 years of service, it’s not the technology that’s limiting us, it’s culture. And it’s the young people who will have to take on the leadership role and drive this change,” he said.
Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.