DOD's network infrastructure needs streamlining: official

True interoperability requires a seamless computing environment.

The Defense Department must make its overall network infrastructure more efficient and interoperable, a top official said Jan. 24.

Streamlining the information architecture across the enterprise is a goal and challenge for DOD, Robert Carey, the department’s deputy CIO, said at the Network Enabled Operations Conference in Alexandria, Va.  As part of a move to increase efficiencies, DOD must trim nearly 900 data centers while continuing to manage millions of users, he said.

As a part of the streamlining process, DOD must get a handle on the number of pilot programs created to meet operational demands for deployed forces. One aspect of this process will be saying “no” to many of these programs because they usually cannot connect back to primary DOD networks, he said, adding, “We’re going to have to take ourselves into a different place.”

Another need is to avoid a glut of software and applications while letting soldiers write their own applications for battlefield uses. However, Carey said the DOD enterprise is not set up to support the widespread use of applications across the services.

DOD is looking at cloud computing and virtualization to help move it to a more seamless environment. Referring to the cloud as a “consistent computing environment,” Carey said to work effectively, it will have to connect data and users across service boundaries. “This is all about getting commanders together with the right data on the battlefield,” he said.

Establishing a common IT infrastructure is a major part of DOD’s efforts; the department’s infrastructure is decentralized and needs reduction, Carey said. One challenge will be to redefine network infrastructure to deliver services to users at the edge of the network. This will provide warfighters with mission effectiveness brought about by increased security and IT efficiencies, he said.

Meanwhile, DOD has been working on developing identity management technologies to allow personnel to access their desktops from anywhere in the department. But although the services are close to such interoperability, Carey said it now only exists in pockets because there is no consistent environment. “We’re working towards that smooth transition,” he said.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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