DISA makes enterprise IT cornerstone of 2012 strategy

The Defense Information Systems Agency is taking on the Defense Department’s fragmented IT services as its top priority for 2012, with some new initiatives getting underway and some more familiar efforts that are gaining traction despite hurdles that have cropped up along the way.

“We’re focusing on enterprise services as our number one priority,” said Tony Montemarano, DISA director for strategic planning and information. “We’re trying to get [DOD] up to the 21st century – that is, centrally operating, enterprise IT capabilities.”

Montemarano spoke as part of a DISA panel hosted by AFCEA DC in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 17.

To help grease the wheels on enterprise IT, DISA is combining two separate offices that have dealt with varying areas of enterprise IT: the computing services directorate, which has included DISA’s data centers, enterprise e-mail, enterprise Sharepoint and content delivery, and the program executive office for Global Information Grid enterprise services (PEO-GES), which has had responsibility for services such as the organization’s net-centric suite and Defense Connect Online.

The services will all be under the PEO-GES, according to Alfred Rivera, DISA director of computing services, who will oversee the portfolio.

Rivera said it makes the most sense to bring together the distinct capabilities, which become more closely aligned under the agency’s increasing focus on efficiency and enterprise services.

“The key is that we had two separate organizations running these enterprise portfolios. Now we’re hoping to sync leadership. We’ll have all those enterprise portfolios under one authoritative organization; we’ll achieve some efficiencies from a programmatic perspective,” Rivera said. “All of these services have to take advantage of the computing side of the house, so hopefully converging in terms of knowledge and engineering will help avoid duplicative engineering services and design.”

Rivera said the process to merge the two offices is beginning this week and will be formalized by mid-February.

DISA’s highest-profile DOD-wide service is enterprise e-mail – so far the focus has been on the Army’s implementation of a single cloud-based e-mail capability, but the Army’s efforts for now are frozen under orders from Congress to provide more information on the use of competition, effectiveness and application to the other military services.

Nonetheless, DISA’s work on the enterprise e-mail program has not ceased.

“We’re still moving out and building capabilities,” Rivera said. “We still have a responsibility to provide that capability,” and also to support the more than 300,000 users that have already migrated to enterprise e-mail so far.

According to Rivera, the Defense Logistics Agency and the Joint Staff are planning their enterprise e-mail migrations, which DISA will also be supporting.

The next step will be DOD-wide Sharepoint, an enterprise version of the collaboration software widely used throughout DOD. Rivera said a pilot version of the capability has been fielded to 14,000 users at the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command and is undergoing operational testing.

DISA’s focus on enterprise IT is for more than achieving the efficiencies being sought across DOD and the federal government; it’s also a key factor for DOD cybersecurity, according to Mark Orndorff, director of DISA program executive office, mission assurance and network operations.

“As we build enterprise services, it gives us the opportunity to implement a truly defendable architecture like we’ve never had before.” Orndorff said. “We’re not just building a commercial-grade e-mail service or commercial-grade defense capabilities; we’re building with the cyber threat in mind.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.

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